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amateur radio equipment banned?

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:45 am
by aclawson
FM is telling us that radios and antennas may not be installed in the buildings. Period. Full stop. This is supposedly a new policy that has been issued within the past year or so.

I have seen a policy that nothing may be attached to the steeple, and puncturing the room membrane is a non-starter, but I have not seen anything that bans any and all installations even with SP approval. Can anybody point to anything that definitively states the current policy, one way or the other?

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:49 am
by johnshaw
Nope... But our FM says the same thing.... our enthusiasts don't care, they put it up anyway :)

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:30 pm
by Mikerowaved
I don't know why they say it's a "new" policy. I've been told this exact thing for many years. We are not always privy to every policy that FM groups are given, so I would suggest if there's an issue, your SP has the ability to ask for direction, clarification, and/or a possible exemption of whatever policy may exist on the matter using the proper channels he's been given.

FYI, in our area, we make use of temporary "base station" antennas that are owned and maintained by local hams that can be easily brought in and setup as needed.

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:41 pm
by techgy
aclawson wrote:FM is telling us that radios and antennas may not be installed in the buildings. Period. Full stop. This is supposedly a new policy that has been issued within the past year or so.

I have seen a policy that nothing may be attached to the steeple, and puncturing the room membrane is a non-starter, but I have not seen anything that bans any and all installations even with SP approval. Can anybody point to anything that definitively states the current policy, one way or the other?
Many years ago we had an amateur radio setup in the stake workroom. Somewhere along the way - and I can't give any specifics or a date - the equipment, and antenna were all removed. I was told that the policy had changed and that any requirement to have radio communications at the building would be handled by members with portable equipment on an "as needed" basis. So although I haven't seen a policy either, I'm sure there must be something that's giving the FM groups some direction. Anyway, we've complied with the request and things are going quite well. We have about 50 members with the amateur licenses (including myself) and we all have our own equipment - most of it portable. Our monthly nets are working well and we feel that in the event of an emergency we have adequate coverage at all of our buildings.

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:58 am
by sammythesm
I was forwarded this message from our local FM. It was from "Meetinghouse Facilities Department" dated 12/6/2011

The following policy statement concerning emergency communication equipment has been issued and will be included in the next revision of the “Facilities Management Guidelines for Meetinghouses”. Thank you for your diligent work and careful attention to these matters.

“Wards and stakes should not purchase or accept donated satellite telephone or amateur radio equipment for use in an emergency or for installation in a meetinghouse. Leaders are encouraged to identify individuals who may already have their own equipment to assist with specific ward and stake communication needs. No permanent installation of equipment, including antennas, is to be made in any Church meetinghouse. Exceptions must be approved by the Meetinghouse Standard Plans Committee.”


So, yes, it does appear to be new, comprehensive, real policy.

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:45 am
by aebrown
sammythesm wrote:I was forwarded this message from our local FM. It was from "Meetinghouse Facilities Department" dated 12/6/2011

So, yes, it does appear to be new, comprehensive, real policy.


The previous version of Facilities Management Guidelines for Meetinghouses (approved in 2009) had similar wording, but it was not as strong:
Wards and stakes should not purchase or accept donated satellite telephone or amateur radio equipment for use in an emergency or for installation in a meetinghouse. Leaders are encouraged to identify individuals who may already have their own equipment to assist with specific ward and stake communication needs.
That's the entire paragraph in the current edition (and I believe it was the same in the edition before that); apparently there were enough units that tried to get around it that the MFD decided they had to add those two additional sentences (starting with "No permanent installation...") so there would be no wiggle room.

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:58 am
by aclawson
I just found the same thing, found here (providentliving.org) and here (FM guidelines, page 3 - this version does not mention the standard plans committee).

The part about the radios themselves is understandable - radios are expensive, subject to loss/theft/damage, might not be properly maintained and there is a risk that non-licensed persons might think "oh, that doesn't look too hard" and do things they oughtn't. The antennas, however, are a different matter and I wish they would reconsider.

1. A permanently mounted antenna can have better performance than a portable one. This has to be one of the first considerations. A properly mounted and tuned fixed antenna can be placed higher up than portable ones which is an important variable in regional simplex operations.

2. A permanently mounted antenna means less setup time and establishing communications more quickly.

3. A PMA provides bus insurance - if the only person who has a portable antenna gets hit by a bus just before an emergency (or in the middle of the emergency) then the ward/stake is out of luck.

4. A PMA is safer for the communications team. Standing around outside a building with hundreds to thousands of dollars of expensive-looking antennas during a week/month long emergency is going to attract unwanted attention. It is safer by far if they could be inside the building. As an added bonus it will probably be warmer and drier inside than out, and you won't have to prop open doors/windows to feed antenna cables through (leaving opening for temperature to move and bugs to get in.

5. A PMA means there is a pre-set, designated location for the radio operators that can't be usurped at the last moment by somebody who, for no particular reason, wants their space. This makes planning and implementation easier and is one less decision that needs to be made.

6. PMAs can easily be concealed - you can get an HF, VHF and UHF antenna inside a flagpole, completely invisible to the naked eye. Run some line to a designated radio spot inside the building and leave the antenna connectors there so people can bring in their radios and test or respond with ease. Ditto with attic mounts, gutter mounts or a crank tower.

7. In an emergency with the chaos going around there is a risk that somebody in their rush to get on the air might be hurt as they climb and deploy. Less likely in rural areas where you have limitless options, more likely in urban areas where space is at a premium and surrounding buildings/interference require you to climb to get any sort of acceptable rx/tx.

8. In the above-mentioned urban areas, a PMA lets you design and deploy the optimal antenna solution for your specific location.

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:20 am
by Mikerowaved
I can agree with a lot of your points, in fact many years ago I helped spearhead a project to get permanent amateur radio antennas mounted on countless school buildings throughout the greater San Jose area. However, in clearly defined policies such as this one, this forum is not the place to try and second guess the brethren as to their line of reasoning. If your SP wants to take up the matter, he certainly can.

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:25 am
by aclawson
Are you (or anybody else) familiar with this "Meetinghouse Standard Plans Committee"? I've never heard of them - how do variance requests get submitted to them and who does it? I think this is important enough to merit an effort, especially since the top leadership are clearly aware of the value of amateur radio (ever see the antennas on top of the COB? The church also sends people with radio gear into disaster zones before the dust settles to install emergency communication equipment).

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:28 am
by russellhltn
aebrown wrote:The previous version of Facilities Management Guidelines for Meetinghouses (approved in 2009) had similar wording, but it was not as strong:


Interesting. I know of at least two stakes that have bought HTs for use in emergency communications. Since there's no impact on the meetinghouse, it would be easy to miss that prohibition on buying equipment when looking for guidance.