Firefighters to Help Consumers Prepare for DTV Transition

As part of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) comprehensive nationwide DTV transition assistance effort, FCC and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), through its Digital TV Transition Assistance Project, have entered into an agreement that will enable firefighters to visit homes where individuals need help to connect their digital converter boxes and adjust their set-top antennas.

"The USFA would like to applaud the efforts of the IAFC and our nation's firefighters for joining in this effort to ensure a successful national conversion from analog to digital technology," said Glenn A. Gaines, acting U.S. fire administrator. "Firefighters know first hand the importance of citizens being able to access critical preparedness information before, during, and after community emergencies. It is critical to fire service and emergency management officials that residents of this nation are prepared, and able to access on their televisions, important life safety messages from all fire, EMS, emergency management, and health care agencies."

The DTV transition is of special importance to the fire and emergency service community because the switch to digital television service will free up airwaves that can be used to expand the national public safety communication network. Consumers should call the FCC's national toll-free help line, 1-888-CALL-FCC, if they need help preparing for the DTV transition.

Assistance will focus on groups the FCC has determined are most affected by the transition, including low-income individuals, minority communities, non-English speaking consumers, senior citizens, consumers with disabilities, and individuals living in rural areas or on tribal lands.

IAFC is one of several organizations that have been enlisted to help prepare the public for the transition and it is still recruiting fire departments to sign up to help in this effort. Fire departments that want to sign up should contact the IAFC at (703) 896-4832 or by e-mail at dtv@iafc.org.

On June 12, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop analog broadcast service and transmit only digital signals. Consumers who do not subscribe to pay television services and have older, analog televisions will need to attach digital-to-analog converter boxes to their televisions in order to continue receiving over-the-air television programming. They may also need to adjust or upgrade their television antennas.

The switch to digital will reward most viewers with better sound, a better picture, more channels, and more programs. The transition will also help save lives by clearing airwaves for better first-responder radio service and making room for the future by clearing airwaves for advanced mobile Internet services.

More information about the DTV transition can be found at www.dtv.gov.

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