The Washington City Council approved a contract with Radio Comm Communications to switch from wideband to narrowband communications, as well as to make upgrades to the fire department frequencies.

The bid, for $135,983.98 is under the $178,000 budgeted for the narrowbanding conversion and coverage enhancements.

Auxiliary receivers at four base stations will be replaced. Existing narrowband capable equipment will move to standby positions, Lisa Hotsenpiller, communications director, told the city council Monday night.

The bid also covers enhancements to the Washington Fire Department’s VHF network channels to increase coverage throughout the district.

The Washington fire and emergency medical services dispatches for the entire Washington area ambulance district, in addition to dispatching law enforcement.

To increase pager reception throughout the district, 150 watt transmitters will be installed to reinforce low lying area where pager functionality is borderline. It also will offset narrowbanding effects.

To increase base station reception from fire personnel in the field, a voting comparator system will employ multiple receiver locations and choose the clearest signal for the dispatchers.

Additionally, a voting receiver will be placed at a tower on Borgmann Road just south of Krakow. It will provide reception for the southern side of the district without requiring antenna or coaxial hardware. Radio Comm will charge $240 per month for site use. The fire department will request the fee to be paid by the rural fire district.

Future sights may be incorporated to expand to enhance coverage further.

Funding will come from a capital improvements sales tax that was approved several years ago.

The ordinance passed unanimously.