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911 Service On-Playa

In recent years Burning Man as an event and as a community has grown, and the Black Rock City Emergency Services Department (ESD) has developed in tandem with Black Rock City in providing 911 services such as EMS, fire, mental health, and emergency communications.  One service that ESD hasn't offered in the past is a remote way for theme camps, art projects, and participants to get help, but now we are able to participate in such an option.

While all the conventional ways to get help are still available (know your local Ranger or where the nearest Emergency Services Station is, for example), we wanted to enhance safety by providing an option for those who might have a specific concern or for those who just want be helpful to others in their neighborhood. Starting in 2007, the ESD will test a new method to call for emergency or Ranger assistance, by monitoring the license-free MURS (Multi User Radio Service) radio band.

MURS is a service similar to FRS (the frequencies that Motorola Talkabouts and similar radios use). As radio users can tell you, FRS is extremely overcrowded and in use by thousands of participants on the playa. FRS radios are also not powerful enough to effectively communicate throughout Black Rock City. MURS, in contrast, is currently not in common usage and operates at a higher power so it can communicate across the entire playa.

We hope that with the introduction of this "911" channel before MURS use becomes widespread will set the expectation that this channel will be for emergency use only. You will need to purchase your own MURS radio to contact 911, but its other 4 channels can also be used by you and other MURS radio owners. Large camps or villages might also choose to make one part of their group planning efforts and store it in a public way for neighborhood emergency use.

Why do I want one of these when my FRS radio works just fine?

  • If you're part of a large theme camp it could be a good investment to have a MURS radio around to call 911 for your group, especially if you have members who have known health issues or the risk of injury is of special concern.

  • Large art projects working out on the open playa will be able to get help faster.

  • Camps that are on the outer-rings of the city and are far from a Ranger outpost or Emergency Services station don't have to send runners for help when an emergency arises.

  • The other 4 channels on MURS can be a great alternative to crowded FRS channels, especially if your camp has an art-car or event-wide project they want to coordinate.

  • Emergency Services Dispatch cannot be reached on an FRS radio.

Calling 911:

FOR ALL MURS USERS: we ask that all Burning Man participants respect that channel 5 will be used as a 911 channel only. While the other channels are fine for use as an alternative to FRS, we want to stress that channel 5 on MURS please be kept open for emergencies and not used for any other purpose.

Set your MURS radio to channel 5, code 11 (154.600 / CTCSS 97.4) to reach Black Rock City Emergency Services Dispatch. Using any other "privacy codes" on channel 5 will interfere with 911. Instead please choose channels 1-4 for personal use and share this information with new MURS users you meet.

If you have further questions or need help in finding a source for radios, please email 911 (at) burningman (dot) com for more information.

A partial list of compatible models:

  • Dakota Alert MURS portable (operational controls just like common FRS radios, with selectable channel and code on the display) $89
  • Fostek MURS Radio (set-up is easy with just a few switches to set internally) $94
  • Motorola XV100 Business band radio (operational controls just like common FRS radios, with selectable channel and code on the display) $189


(the list of suggested models in no way endorses them over other brands or compatible model radios)

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