Sirois assisting Homeland Security with ham radio communications

East Boothbay resident part of communication network
Fri, 03/27/2020 - 8:45am

    An East Boothbay man is part of the U.S. Homeland Security team as an amateur radio operator. Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency Director Casey Stevens appointed Al Sirois, 88, as one of three Maine ham, or civilian amateur, radio operators participating in Homeland Security’s Shares program. Shared Resources high-frequency radio program (Shares) provides an additional means for users with a national security and emergency preparedness mission to communicate when landline and cellular communications are unavailable. Team members use existing high frequency radio resources to coordinate and transmit messages for critical functions during emergencies. Sirois is responsible for central Maine. Two other operators are located in northern Maine and York County. 

    Sirois monitors the network on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and another shift at 7 p.m. Occasionally, he works a Monday shift. Sirois monitors continuous wave communications to ensure communications between local government is possible with Homeland Security. Sirois began as an amateur ham radio operator in the U.S. Navy. He worked as a short wave radio MARS (military affiliated radio station) operator. In 1993, Sirois worked for Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant and applied for a civilian license.

    Sirios isn’t sure why he was selected for the position. He is a two-decade member of the Lincoln County Amateur Radio Club. Last July, he participated with the club for the first time in the American Radio Relay League’s annual amateur radio Field Day. Sirois believes he made a good impression that day. “I made 500 contacts and our team finished either first or second in our group. Maybe that's why I was asked to join Shares,” he said. 

    On March 27, Sirois attended a training webinar out of Arlington, Virginia. The online training included radio encryption instruction. As a ham radio operator, Sirois enjoys providing emergency communications during a potential crisis. “I’m an engineer. I understand the importance of providing good communication and I know how to get it done.” 

    Sirois shared his passion for ham radio March 16-20 at Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library. The event was part of the state’s Bicentennial celebration. Sirois advertised his call letters in a national ham radio magazine so ham operators could converse with local library patrons. Unfortunately, library hours were cut short due to the coronavirus. Sirois continued the radio broadcasts from his home and still made 213 contacts.