For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Gil Dong, Deputy Fire Chief, (510) 981-5501

Berkeley Emergency Notification System, already functional for land-based phones, now also available for cell phone calls and text messages

Berkeley, California (Monday, September 15, 2008) - Did you know that in an emergency, you could receive a call from the City of Berkeley with recorded information about missing children, hazardous material spills, and other dangerous conditions in your neighborhood? Residents, business owners and employees can now sign up online or call an 800-number to register their cell phone, pager, and VOIP phone numbers to receive emergency messages.

The Berkeley Emergency Notification System (BENS) allows the City to call residents at home to give them critical public safety information. This service is also known as an "outdialer" or a "reverse 911" system and is for emergency notifications. 

One of the essential features of this system is that it allows the City to deliver a message to a specific geographical area. For example, if a residential area were threatened by a wildfire, the residents that have AT&T landline phone service may receive an evacuation message.

For the first time, residents can register alternate phone numbers as well.

Calls from BENS are pre-recorded and the speaker will be very clear that it is an emergency call from the City of Berkeley. If the call is a test of the system, the message will be stated very clearly. You can register a cell or pager number to receive an SMS, or text, message. These messages are limited to 160 characters, and you may be charged for receiving them. If you provide your email address as well, you will receive the same message there.

There are three ways to register:

For more information about this service, please visit the Office of Emergency Services at or call 510-981-5605.