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WESTMINSTER - The County Commissioners on Thursday took a step toward clearer emergency communications.

At the request of the members of the Communications Advisory Board, the commissioners agreed to write a letter of intent to the Federal Communications Commissions, stating that they will be interested in any high-frequency channels that open up in the future.

The move is the first step in a plan that would change the county's current low-band emergency communication system into a $5.5 million, 800 megahertz system that is designed to ensure clear communications and eliminate the current system's problems of interference.

Firefighters have complained over the years that they lose communications signals in low-lying parts of the county, a potentially dangerous situation.

One problem with the 800 megahertz system is that the FCC is currently accepting applications for channels, and Carroll is not ready to make a formal application.

Howard "Buddy" Redman, administrator of emergency services at the county Emergency Operations Center, said Thursday that the FCC has agreed to accept new applications in July and August.

Redman said Baltimore, Washington and Baltimore Airport Authority fire services already have made applications for channels on the new high-band frequency.

Carroll will need at least 5 channels on the new frequency to accommodate the volunteer fire department, Carroll County Sheriff's Department, the Highway and Roads Department and other county government agencies that use radio communication.

Redman said he wrote a draft of the letter, which must be approved by the commissioners before it is sent.

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