Fire authority endorses Maricopa’s Emergency Notification System

Brian Curry

The Arizona Fire & Medical Authority/Sun Lakes has endorsed the implementation of the Maricopa County’s “Community Emergency Notification System” (CENS).

This system is designed to rapidly notify an affected area of an emergency by sending a recorded message through the telephone system. It is commonly referred to as “Reverse 9-1-1.”

CENS is used when public safety officials decide it is appropriate. Potential uses could include local notifications about emergencies, such as major fires, public safety threats, flash floods, hazardous material incidents or endangered children or senior citizens.

Does that mean you will learn about everything happening locally? No, but it does mean that you will be notified if officials determine that using the CENS system is appropriate, given factors such as time of day and the type of incident.

So how does CENS work? Emergency managers identify on a map an area impacted by an emergency. CENS than launches a recorded message (warnings, instructions or other information) to all landline telephone numbers within that area.

CENS does this by using the Maricopa region 9-1-1 database to identify phone numbers within that area. However, that database does not include cellphones or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone numbers unless they are registered to that area.

As many homes switch over to cellphone use only, it is important to register these cell phones and/or VoIP numbers to receive the important emergency messages.

Caller ID devices will show a CENS message as a “REVERSE911CALL” with a (480) area code, regardless of where the emergency is located. The system is designed to leave a message on voicemail or an answering machine. It is also designed to call back if the line is busy or if there is no answer.

There are two ways to register for CENS. Online at (click on the CENS registration icon). Or by phone at 602-273-1411 or 602-244-1409 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Some final notes on CENS activation: An email is required in order to set up accounts online. If your account is set up by the Maricopa County’s Department of Emergency Management (MCDEM), they will use your email as the user name and password. You will have to respond to your email to activate the CENS registration.

MCDEM also assures everyone that they will not share or distribute personal information gathered by this registration, except as required by law, and will use it solely for the purpose of providing emergency notifications.