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NIFOG - The National Interoperability Field Operations Guide

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by AA7BQ, Sep 10, 2013.

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  1. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ Guest

    Recently, while giving a talk at the Montgomery Amateur Radio Club (MARC) in Rockville, MD, I had the occasion to meet Ross Merlin WA2WDT who gave me a copy of a guide that he authored at the Department of Homeland Security.

    Ross works in the DHS Office of Emergency Communications and his guide, called NIFOG, is a great go-to compendium of radio frequencies, channels, and other tidbits that can be essential in times of an emergency.


    This little booklet, available in printed and downloadable formats, contains page after page of frequency information, operating procedures, formulas, and rules and regulations from the FCC, and the NTIA.

    Subject material includes frequency and channel data for Fire, EMS, Police, and Law Enforcement as well as Mutual Aid channels in VHF, UHF, 700 MHz, and others. Also includes emergency comms for marine, aviation, P25, NOAA weather, MURS, GMRS, FRS, and just about any radio you might encounter in an emergency.

    Copies printed on waterproof paper, are available free of charge from DHS. Please contact NIFOG@HQ.DHS.GOV for details.

    The main site where the downloads are available is and is well worth a visit.

    The site contains a number of important emergency services resources for communications and is itself worth a visit. Several online tools provide mapping of critical radio services plus links to a number of important emergency resources.

  2. K9APD

    K9APD Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks Fred. As an Instructor for both COMT and Auxiliary Emergency Communications working for Dept. Homeland Security, we distribute these NiFogs at every class. They do have a wealth of information critical to interoperable communications. Ross did an outstanding job putting this together.
    Jim Millsap-WB4NWS
    ARRL Southeastern Vice Director
    DEC Metro Atlanta District ARES
  3. KB3PXR

    KB3PXR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Fred, I actually got a copy of this last week. While the frequency reference is only good for scanner programming (to me anyway), I did find one section of the guide that should help EVERYBODY. It is a reference of email gateways for text messaging. These gateways allow you to send an email message to any cellular phone on that carrier's network capable of text messaging. You only need the number of the phone and to know the user's carrier.
  4. WA1MZL

    WA1MZL Ham Member QRZ Page

    File is a bit Large,but useable for my position as Chief Comm Off,Fall River,MA Emergency Management. Thanks Fred!
  5. AH6OY

    AH6OY Ham Member QRZ Page

    My votes for Ross as head of over the horizon radar freqs.
  6. W6EM

    W6EM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I guess that I should at least first download it and open the cover......But.... If effective interoperability means any kind of common denominator, how is it that amateur radio has any role, since few of us are using : 1) 700MHz (unlawful); 2) P25 (surplus VHF/UHF comm gear sparse and expensive--and public safety moving en-masse to 700MHz anyway); 3) public safety narrowbanding and we're not; 4) if we are using NBFM, VHF maritime isn't; 5) DSTAR isn't compatible with P25, MTRTRBO, SecureNet, or EDACS.

    So, we use impromptu, portable, local WiFi-linked IP repeater radios across services? If so, who has them? Who coordinates them and makes them immediately available in crises? Licensing/regulatory exemptions?
  7. W6EM

    W6EM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Now that I've downloaded the handbook and read through the frequencies section, its quite a collection. It even includes the entire 40-channel Citizens Band, by frequency. And, the GMRS allocation. However, the only thing listed for Amateur Radio is the ARRL's office phone number, and that for W1AW. It would seem to me that some frequencies, such as simplex FM national calling frequencies for 10M, 6M, 2M and 70cM should have been included in a table with notation about them being wide band (5kHz) deviation. Since a ham authored the handbook, why weren't they included? Obviously, from other examples in the handbook, restrictions on use due to licensure, FCC regulations, etc., could have been footnoted to smooth any ruffled feathers. It was late last night, and I might have fallen asleep and missed them. Many apologies if I did.

    The thought did cross my mind: What if ARRL's telephones aren't answered or can't be answered in a real crisis? I could find nothing about contacting local or state ARES people, etc. Maybe I dozed off again. Was that Newington's decision to omit the above?

    Also, nothing about SHARES or MARS that I could find. I've heard that MARS frequencies (and modes?) are perceived as sensitive (Official Business). One need only listen to HF, so that's really quite an effective way of keeping anyone from finding them. (If sensitivity of communications is such an issue, it would seem to me that MARS ought to follow the military and use spread spectrum. But, of course, that would mean all would have to use only military radios)
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  8. AC0IV

    AC0IV Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Bottom Line for all Non Federal Agencies using these frequencies they must have an FCC license specifically authorizing the frequencies. Federal agencies are not governed through the FCC and must have Authorization through the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA). Amateurs may not use these frequencies unless an an emergency (life and property).
  9. ND5Y

    ND5Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    All Public Safety licensee are licensed by rule to operate mobile stations on the non-federal national public safety interoperability frequencies. They don't need to license them separately unless it is for a base station or repeater.
  10. N2OBM

    N2OBM Ham Member QRZ Page

    To properly understand the letter of the law, and the intent, you must plow through the NTIA Redbook.

    The NIFOG, is a great 'on the ground' reference....there are legitimate vehicles (reference the Redbook) for non-federal entities to come up on federally coordinated frequency resources to meet a specific mission or requirement (yes, damned be 'type' certification).

    The NIFOG does not, and cannot, address the 'digital babylon' (D-Star, P25, EDACS, Moto) issue.
    The radio makers DON'T want that adressed. P25 is just ONE way to narrowband; even though most of the federal systems will 'go' P25; the States and others are heavily invested otherwise.

    It will be interesting to see in a couple of years what FirstNet will do to the NIFOG, ARES and RACES doctrine and the amateur aspect of ECOMM.

    But even as I type this, the special interests (many) have started to degrade, twist and manipulate the intent of what FirstNet is supposed to empower First Responders with as a tool set.

    Too damn many 'good idea fairies'.

    As I have commented in other forums with extreme prejudice, I will state here in hopes to avert my mailbox from running over....I am a active duty spectrum manager in the uniformed services. I do not 'stay in my lane' under the premise of constantly seeking self-improvement (a job 'requirement') and to stay current with technology/ trends for communication solutions. Out.
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