Hurricane season began June 1st and with residents increasingly reliant on cellular and WiFi networks, Newport’s Emergency Management Team wants to find out just how prepared Newport is to withstand a widespread communications outage by asking the question: What happens when the cell towers go down?

On Saturday, June 29, 2019, members of the Newport Fire and Police Departments will be teaming up with volunteers from the Newport County Radio Club and BSA Scout Troop 3 to test the effectiveness of using a low power FRS (Family Radio Service) radio network to relay emergency notifications.

The exercise is part of the City’s ongoing emergency management training and aims to engage directly with the community to simulate what could one day become a real world scenario.

Playing a central role in the effort will be the volunteer members of the Newport County Radio Club, which since 1945 has been educating the community and training “ham” radio operators throughout Newport County.

During the exercise on June 29 from noon to 2 p.m., radio operators from the Newport County Radio Club will staff a 2-meter VHF station at Firehouse 1, where incoming transmissions from across the City will be received from a network of ham relay operators strategically positioned across the city.

Anyone interested in participating with their own handheld radios (FRS Channel 3) or boaters on VHF Channel 6, are invited to take part. Citizens will be asked to identify themselves by first name and street number before providing their location and feedback regarding the quality of their respective radio signal.

Troops from Newport’s  Scout Troop 3 have already volunteered to participate in the drill, and a limited number of radios will be made available to those who would like to join in. 

To learn more about the project, and to learn how you can take part, please visit the City’s website at