FCC Levies Largest Fine to Amateur Radio Operator

June 8, 2022 by Madeline Hughes
FCC Levies Largest Fine to Amateur Radio Operator
Carson Hot Shots Henry Hornberger, left, and Tyler Freeman cut up a hollow tree that was burning on the inside, Monday, May 23, 2022, as they and their co-workers work on hot spots from the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire in the Carson National Forest west of Chacon, N.M. (Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

WASHINGTON — While firefighters were battling a blaze near Elk River, Idaho, in 2021 an unknown voice came over the radio waves they were using to coordinate an airplane to help fight the fire.

The U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement determined it was Jason Frawley of Idaho, and Wednesday the Federal Communications Commission fined him $34,000 for his interference.

“You can’t interfere with public safety communications. Full stop,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel during Wednesday’s monthly commission meeting. “So today we propose the largest fine of its type for this interference that put fire suppression and public safety itself at risk.”

Rosenworcel was joined by the three other commissioners to unanimously vote for the fine. They all thanked law enforcement for their help finding Frawley.


Frawley allegedly sent eight unauthorized radio messages over two days in late July 2021, as firefighters battled what is known as the “Johnson Fire,” according to a statement from the commission.

He broadcast messages about his observations of the fire near the Elk Butte airstrip, where he was, to airplane and ground crews, according to the statement.

It was on the second day of Frawley’s broadcasts that a member of the Forest Service found him and told him to stop, according to the statement. 


Frawley has the license to amateur radio station WA7CQ. He also owns the company Leader Communications LLC, which has eight microwave licenses and one business license that all can be used for public communications.

After the Forest Service member talked to Frawley, he “argued to the commission that he did not mean any harm and only intended to assist the firefighting crews by providing them with specific details regarding Elk Butte,” according to the statement.

“Regardless of the intent, the FCC finds that the apparent willful violations cannot be overlooked as interfering with authorized radio communications — and especially public safety-related communications — is a serious violation of the law and can put lives and property at risk,” the commission’s statement said.

The fire in total destroyed about 1,000 acres of national forest land in northwest Idaho.

“To keep the community safe, these authorities worked together to address the burning acreage and coordinate with aircraft in the skies above. To do this, they relied on radio communications,” Rosenworcel said. “In other words, they sought to use public airwaves to keep the public safe. But their efforts were thwarted by an amateur radio operator who was unlawfully transmitting on frequencies dedicated to public safety.”


The Well News has contacted Frawley for comment. This story will be updated.

Madeline can be reached at [email protected] and @MadelineHughes

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Regulation

Federal Appeals Court Stays FDA Ban on Juul E-Cigarettes

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Friday stayed the Food and Drug Administration's ban on sales of Juul Labs... Read More

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Friday stayed the Food and Drug Administration's ban on sales of Juul Labs Inc's e-cigarettes, after the company appealed the agency's order on the grounds the ban would cause it "irreparable harm." The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for... Read More

June 23, 2022
by Eden Metzger
FDA Says No to Juul Sales

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered Juul Labs to pull its electronic cigarettes from the U.S.... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered Juul Labs to pull its electronic cigarettes from the U.S. market, a move intended to curb a multibillion-dollar industry blamed for sparking a national surge in teen vaping.  "Today's action is further progress on the FDA's... Read More

June 21, 2022
by Dan McCue
Business Groups Pushing Back Hard on SEC Emissions Reporting Proposal

WASHINGTON — Business groups and corporate lobbyists were among those pushing back hardest as the deadline elapsed Friday on a... Read More

WASHINGTON — Business groups and corporate lobbyists were among those pushing back hardest as the deadline elapsed Friday on a Securities and Exchange Commission proposal that would require companies for the first time to disclose their carbon emissions and climate change risks to investors. In March,... Read More

June 19, 2022
by Dan McCue
Verizon, AT&T Agree to Delay Some of 5G Deployment Until Mid-2023

WASHINGTON — Verizon Communications and AT&T have voluntarily agreed to delay some deployment of their long-awaited C-band 5G usage until... Read More

WASHINGTON — Verizon Communications and AT&T have voluntarily agreed to delay some deployment of their long-awaited C-band 5G usage until July 2023 as air carriers continue to work to retrofit passenger and cargo aircraft to ensure they do not encounter instrument interference from the rollout. As... Read More

June 17, 2022
by Dan McCue
Feds Unveil Plan to Get Clean Energy on the Grid Faster

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators on Thursday rolled out a proposed overhaul of long-standing policies governing how new power projects are... Read More

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators on Thursday rolled out a proposed overhaul of long-standing policies governing how new power projects are connected to transmission lines. The intention behind the proposal from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is to unstop a bottleneck of renewable and other clean energy... Read More

June 17, 2022
by Dan McCue
FDA Approves COVID Vaccines for Children Aged 5 and Younger

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave its approval for COVID-19 vaccines for children age 5 and... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave its approval for COVID-19 vaccines for children age 5 and younger.  The shots could start as early as next week if, as expected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees with the FDA assessment. In... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top