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Old March 3rd 08, 02:58 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

I would like to see other opinions on this issue, which came up in
passing in another group.

One of the participants there mentioned that a ham radio license has
been added as an employment condition for some of their professional
responders. Presumably the motivation is based on a desire to have a
known population of people who can use ham radio technology in a
disaster if nothing else is working.

I have two questions on this.

Is this a common situation? I hadn't heard of a formal requirement
until it was mentioned on the other forum, but a couple more people came
forward and said that it was in place in their area. Is it happening in
your area?

Do you think it's a good idea?

73, Steve KB9X


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Old March 3rd 08, 05:06 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

Steve,

Where I live, middle TN, we are seeing a lot of medical, law
enforcement, and emergency service types turning up in our technician
and general class classes. So far as I know, none are there by
requirement or "suggestion." It is just a desire to have another tool
to use, and as the result of what they have seen that ham radio can
and has done. In some cases, I suspect that the extent of their
operating is to check in on the monthly hospital net.

It does not seem to be an unreasonable requirement for a job, given
how easy the licence process is today. The rest of the hiring process
will at least provide some selection of people with demonstrated
responsibility. It certainly is not extraneous to most job
requirements.




--
Alan
WA4SCA

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Old March 3rd 08, 05:07 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

On Mar 3, 9:58 am, Steve Bonine wrote:

Is this a common situation?


I've never heard of it before.

Do you think it's a good idea?


No. At least not as a formal requirement for the job. I'm all for
encouraging and recruiting new hams,
and supporting them, but forcing them to be licensed as a condition of
employment is not a good idea, except maybe
in certain specific conditions.

Here's why:

(insert standard "I-am-not-a-lawyer" disclaimer HERE)

One of the rules about hiring-and-firing is that you cannot make
something a formal requirement for a job unless it is a reasonable
part of the normal job duties. For example, if the job involves
typical office work, you can't make it a requirement that an employee
be able to lift a 100 pound box and place it on a shelf 6 feet above
the floor unless doing so is a normal part of the job. Once in a blue
moon isn't good enough.

OTOH, if the job requires that a person occasionally drive a company
vehicle, having the required driver's licenses to do so is a
reasonable expectation.

So if an employer wants all hires to have a ham license, one has to
ask if using ham radio for communications is a routine part of the
job. If it's not, then the requirement isn't reasonable. If it is,
then we have to ask about the "pecuniary interest" part of Part 97.

The specific conditions I mentioned above a

1) If a school had ham radio as part of the curriculum, and a specific
teacher was expected to be able to operate the station so the students
could, say, talk to the Space Shuttle. Even this is not clear-cut
because a volunteer or one of the students could be the control
operator.

2) If an organization like ARRL Hq or a museum needed someone to
operate an amateur station as part of their normal duties (demos,
bulletins, etc.)

Both of those are specifically provided for in Part 97.

The problems I see with requiring employees in other situations to be
hams a

1) It weakens the no-pecuniary-interest thing.
2) It creates a number of amateurs whose fundamental focus isn't
"radio for its own sake" but rather "something I gotta do for the
job". Which isn't good.

IMHO

73 de Jim, N2EY

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Old March 3rd 08, 07:39 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

Steve Bonine wrote:
I would like to see other opinions on this issue, which came up in
passing in another group.

One of the participants there mentioned that a ham radio license has
been added as an employment condition for some of their professional
responders. Presumably the motivation is based on a desire to have a
known population of people who can use ham radio technology in a
disaster if nothing else is working.

I have two questions on this.

Is this a common situation? I hadn't heard of a formal requirement
until it was mentioned on the other forum, but a couple more people came
forward and said that it was in place in their area. Is it happening in
your area?


It isn't a requirement in our area, but it is apparently strongly
encouraged. This is one of the situations that I refer to as
"Professional Hams". It is truly a profound change in emergency
operations. I am pretty convinced that the end strategy of all this is
that these groups expect to use amateur radio via their "professional
hams, and will not use hobbyists in the future.


Do you think it's a good idea?


Not particularly.

The nature of emergency work is that it only happens when there is an
emergency, so people have a lot to talk and think about in between
emergencies.

One of the things that emergency planners do best is impose a structure
on work and situations. The problem is that structure tends to go away
as soon as the emergency happens, just like battle plans.

It's why Ice trucks were left sitting in parking lots in another state
when they were needed in the Katrina aftermath, its why emergency groups
talk about interoperability, not realizing that the more structure they
put in place, the more points for failure there will be. We seem to
think that if "the boss" can see what everyone is doing and can directly
command them, then all will be well. When in reality, the folks on the
ground need to be able to function autonomously and be trusted to make a
decision.

So instead of having trained communicators on board - note that by
trained communicators, I mean people who know how to get comms across X
number of miles at Y o'clock, not those who just know what to say -
we'll be having professionals who happen to have a license.

Getting a Ham radio license is just an entry ticket. Are these new folks
going to be able to put together a repeater system when the hurricane
comes through and knocks out every other one in the stricken area? Will
they wonder why they can't talk to others in the same state on 20 meters
or that 75 meters seems so dead during the daytime? That is what Hams
have brought to the table over the years.

I know that mine is a minority opinion, hopefully I'm very wrong!

- 73 de Mike N3LI -


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Old March 3rd 08, 11:26 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

Steve Bonine wrote:
I would like to see other opinions on this issue, which came up in
passing in another group.

One of the participants there mentioned that a ham radio license has
been added as an employment condition for some of their professional
responders. Presumably the motivation is based on a desire to have a
known population of people who can use ham radio technology in a
disaster if nothing else is working.

I have two questions on this.

Is this a common situation? I hadn't heard of a formal requirement
until it was mentioned on the other forum, but a couple more people came
forward and said that it was in place in their area. Is it happening in
your area?


No, it isn't happening in this area.

Do you think it's a good idea?


No. I refer to N2EY's thoughtful response. I don't think it makes any
more sense to make obtaining an *amateur* license part of a professional
position any more than requiring an applicant for an amateur radio know
how to to fight fires.

Dave KMN

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Old March 3rd 08, 11:33 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

Michael Coslo wrote:

This is one of the situations that I refer to as
"Professional Hams". It is truly a profound change in emergency
operations. I am pretty convinced that the end strategy of all this is
that these groups expect to use amateur radio via their "professional
hams, and will not use hobbyists in the future.


My experience does not support that, but I realize that it's MY
experience and that the situation in other areas may be different.
That's one of the reasons I started the thread; I am curious as to how
things are in other areas. I doubt that my area is typical, but I'm not
sure that "typical" even exists in this case.

I don't see our professional emergency management folks thinking that
they will replace the traditional ham radio recruit, the "hobbyists" if
you will. They seem to be more interested in getting licensed so that
they can work more effectively with the ham volunteers, and "tap in" to
the resources that are available. They see cases where hams are
providing something positive and they want to be able to take best
advantage of it.

Most of these professionals realize that the actual radios and the
technology, while important, isn't really the most important component
of what the ham radio community can provide. It's the people that
matter the most. Rather than trying to minimize that, the paid emcomm
folks that I have seen are trying to maximize it.

One of the things that emergency planners do best is impose a structure
on work and situations. The problem is that structure tends to go away
as soon as the emergency happens, just like battle plans.


With all due respect, having an effective battle plan is key to winning
a battle. They don't "go away", any more than an effective emergency
plan does. Sure, things seldom go exactly as the plan would suggest,
but the more planning is done in advance, the higher the probability
that things will go more smoothly.

Katrina was probably the ultimate example of how Mother Nature can throw
things at us that are beyond the threshold of our plans. Even so, the
organizations that had invested in planning came out much better than
the ones that had not.

It's why Ice trucks were left sitting in parking lots in another state
when they were needed in the Katrina aftermath, its why emergency groups
talk about interoperability, not realizing that the more structure they
put in place, the more points for failure there will be.


Plans are not perfect. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't plan. I am
not willing to concede that ice trucks sitting in the wrong place were a
result of planning. In fact, my conclusion would be the opposite -- if
the plan were better, the material would stand a better chance of
getting where it needed to be.

We seem to
think that if "the boss" can see what everyone is doing and can directly
command them, then all will be well. When in reality, the folks on the
ground need to be able to function autonomously and be trusted to make a
decision.


Sure, the folks on the ground need to be able to make decisions, but the
people trying to manage the big picture need to know what that decision
was so that they can integrate it into the response. It's not an ideal
situation when the folks on the ground MUST function autonomously
because they have not the slightest idea what their compatriots are
doing since they can't talk to them.

If I'm placed into the position of having to make a command decision,
I'm more comfortable making that decision if I have good information
upon which to base it. Without communications, that information is
often missing.

Getting a Ham radio license is just an entry ticket. Are these new folks
going to be able to put together a repeater system when the hurricane
comes through and knocks out every other one in the stricken area? Will
they wonder why they can't talk to others in the same state on 20 meters
or that 75 meters seems so dead during the daytime? That is what Hams
have brought to the table over the years.


And I hope that they continue to do so. I just don't accept the premise
that having paid members of the team as licensed amateurs changes that
situation. The more that the people who are managing the disaster know
about ham radio, the better they will be able to make use of the resource.

And who knows . . . some of the people might get hooked and actually
grow into full fledged ham contributors.

73, Steve KB9X

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Old March 4th 08, 12:34 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

Of course, it depends. For a job working behind the counter at a retail
store that was, um, "geared" particularly toward ham radio equipment, parts,
and supplies being licensed was a requirement. A non-ham couldn't, among
other things, speak the language or have had any experience with the
equipment and antennas. Besides, only the hams were partaking in the
Saturday morning coffee and donuts. ;-)

In fact, I remember the newspaper help-wanted ad very specifically: "Ham
radio operator wanted for full-time counter sales."


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Old March 4th 08, 10:37 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

Steve Bonine wrote:
I would like to see other opinions on this issue, which came up in
passing in another group.

One of the participants there mentioned that a ham radio license has
been added as an employment condition for some of their professional
responders. Presumably the motivation is based on a desire to have a
known population of people who can use ham radio technology in a
disaster if nothing else is working.

I have two questions on this.

Is this a common situation? I hadn't heard of a formal requirement
until it was mentioned on the other forum, but a couple more people came
forward and said that it was in place in their area. Is it happening in
your area?


Not that I know of.

Do you think it's a good idea?


I wouldn't mind having a job that required me to be a ham, but being
required to have a ham license in addition to being trained for some
other field does, as others have pointed out, risk degrading the quality
of applicant.

I think what the emcomm managers _really_ want is a commercially
licensed emergency radio technician and communicator, but there's no
license for that. The problem with requiring a ham license is that
there's so much variability in the training and currency of hams, not to
mention their physical condition, that I don't think that having a ham
license is a reliable indicator of emcomm proficiency.

After all, _any_ municipal employee can be trained to operate a two-way
radio: what's required in an emergency is guys that can operate the
radio _and_ put up the antenna _and_ figure out which rigs can share a
power supply _and_ figure out which existing antennas are "close enough"
for the frequency needed _and_ get a CD-badged Gooneybox to communicate
with an FM radio. Long story short, I think requiring a ham license
involves an assumption that anyone with a license knows how to operate
and improvise in an emergency, and that's not true.

FWIW. YMMV.

73, Bill W1AC
(Remove QRM from my address for direct replies.)

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Old March 4th 08, 07:35 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default Ham radio as a condition of employment

Bill Horne wrote:

I think what the emcomm managers _really_ want is a commercially
licensed emergency radio technician and communicator, but there's no
license for that. The problem with requiring a ham license is that
there's so much variability in the training and currency of hams, not to
mention their physical condition, that I don't think that having a ham
license is a reliable indicator of emcomm proficiency.



Bingo! What has happened over the years is that radio communications
skills have been marginalized to such an extent that they overdid it.
The skill set that Hams bring to the emergency used to be shared by
professional radio ops. But the powers that be wanted highly simplified
systems that required no more electrical acumen than turning the radio
on and mashing the PTT button ended up meanining that no one knew much
about radio, and therefore needed someone who did to help.

Ask an Emcomm manager if they would rather have the "unpaid volunteer"
Ham or someone who actually worked for them doing comms, and I would be
surprised if anyone would prefer the Ham.

- 73 d eMike N3LI -



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