FCC proposes fine for radio operator over fire communication

Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 3:23 PM MDT
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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Federal Communications Commissions has proposed a $34,000 fine against an Idaho man that the agency says interfered with firefighters’ radio communications during a wildfire last year when he alerted them to hazards in the region.

The FCC said alleged interference happened while the U.S. Forest Service and the Idaho Department of Lands were fighting a wildfire near the small north-central Idaho village of Elk River.

The agencies were using the radios to guide firefighting aircraft when someone identifying himself as “comm tech” made eight unauthorized transmissions on the government radio frequencies, telling the crews about hazards near an airstrip in the region, the FCC said.

Jason Frawley, a HAM radio operator and broadband service provider in the region with equipment at the airstrip, later told officials that he was trying to help the firefighting crews by giving them details about conditions in the area.

Still, the FCC said that regardless of the intent, the violations were “willful.”

“Interfering with authorized radio communications — and especially public safety related communications — is a serous violation of the law and can put lives and property at risk,” the agency wrote in a statement released Wednesday.

Frawley will have the opportunity to respond to the FCC’s proposal and allegations before the fine becomes final, the FCC said.

Frawley told The Associated Press that he could not immediately comment on the matter.

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