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Most City of Portland offices will be closed Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day.

A Decade of Community Preparedness! 

Blog Post
Ten years ago this month, PBEM created the BEECN program.
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A BEECN (Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Node) is a place to go after a major earthquake in Portland. BEECNs are primarily intended for communication purposes—requesting emergency assistance and reporting severe damage. But BEECNs might also have information about which bridges are passable and which hospitals are open.    

Orange box containing emergency radio and handbook.

Ten years ago this month, the BEECN program was launched when then-Portland Mayor Sam Adams directed the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) to create a program where people could get information and communications resources following an emergency. The program was stood up in a lightning-fast three months.  

  • Custom gear carts were designed and manufactured.  

  • A special radio license was secured from the FCC.  

  • More than two tons of first aid and other equipment was ordered.  

  • Memorandums of understanding were signed by property owners where the initial 48 BEECN sites were housed.  

  • Maps were printed and delivered to every mailbox in Portland.  

Woman wearing safety vest speaking into walkie talkie.

BEECNs were sprung into existence! There are only three similar systems in the country outside of Portland, in Milwaukie, Ore., Seattle, Wash., and Marin County, Calif.   

BEECNs are located under clearly marked red and white tents. At these sites, BEECN volunteers will be operating emergency radio equipment. There are NOW 50 locations throughout Portland.  

PBEM anticipates that BEECNs will be activated 24-48 hours after a major earthquake, or other event that disables phone lines. Some sites may take more or less time to stand up, depending on the damage caused by the quake.   

“Portland is fortunate to have the BEECN volunteers who have both the goodwill and technical expertise that’s truly rare and necessary,” said Ernest Jones BEECN and NET Program Development Coordinator at PBEM. “Our volunteers make this program possible and I join with Portlanders in thanking them for their dedication to supporting their neighbors and community following a disaster.” 

There are 358 active BEECN volunteers. Anyone who lives, works, or otherwise spends a significant amount of time in Portland may become a BEECN volunteer. A basic criminal background check is required. The training and online application are free at portland.gov/beecn.   

Group of people in safety vests standing in front of supply locker.

BEECN Informational Sessions & Training   

Everyone is invited to attend a free, online, 90-minute training from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9. Click here to register.  The following online BEECN trainings is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6. Click here to register. If you have a group of eight people or more, please contact us at ernest.jonest@portlandoregon.gov, and arrangements can be made for a free, 90-minute BEECN training at a time and place convenient for you (virtual or in-person).