How to Program a First Alert Radio


First Alert radios receive digitally encoded civil and weather emergency alert messages from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Radio (NWR) system. NOAA has towers in the 50 states and coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the US Pacific Territories. The First Alert radios receive all the NOAA channels available and uses technology called Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) to identify specific areas, like a county. You can program your radio for specific messages appropriate for your area.

  • Select the weather band channel for your area. Go to the NOAA website to look up the appropriate channel.

  • Press the radio’s Listen button and then press and hold the Menu button for three seconds. “Alert Mode” will appear on the display.

  • Press the up button to choose the “Set Channel” menu item.

  • Press the Next button. The screen will show “Set Channel” and the channel number will be listed on the right. The channel number will begin to blink. Use the Up/Down buttons to select the channel you identified at the website.

  • Press the Save button.

  • Look up your Federal Information Processing System (FIPS) code at the website. It’s the code your radio will use to identify your county or specific area. Some areas overlap, so you should make a note of multiple FIPS codes if necessary. The radio can handle twenty codes.

  • Press and hold the Menu button for three seconds. “Alert Mode” will appear on the display. Press the up button to choose the “County Code” menu. The screen will show the word “Code” followed by a blinking “01” followed by six zeros. The 01 is the first FIPS code location available to you and 000000 is the default setting to receive all messages on your broadcast channel.

  • Press Next and the first of the zeros will blink. Enter the first digit of your FIPS code using the up and down buttons. Press Next to go on to the second digit and so on. Keep going until you have all six digits entered.

  • Press the Save button and then the Menu button to return to normal operation.

  • Leave the radio on and monitor display periodically. NOAA sends out a test signal weekly and monthly. The test messages will be stored in the alert queue. If the test isn’t received after ten days, re-check your programming.

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