You may recall the December 16 headline and story above from STATter911.com where DC Deputy Mayor Paul Quander got one last “screw you” in before riding off into the sunset with the rest of the administration of Mayor Vincent Gray. A day or so before my column, Quander was able to meet his all important goal of encrypting most of the talk groups for the DC Fire & EMS Department. As my post explained, with Quander and former Chief Kenneth Ellerbe leaving the department in such bad shape after four years of irresponsible management, who could blame them for wanting to keep all operations secret so the press and the public don’t know what is really going on? (Click here to learn more about the unique management style of Quander and Ellerbe.)
But there’s a new sheriff in town. Sorry, that’s a new mayor in town. Her name is Muriel Bowser. Mayor Bowser and with her trusted deputy, City Administrator Rashad Young, are now making it possible for us to say “screw you” right back to Paul Quander. Reporters Mark Segraves at WRC-TV/NBC4 and Paul Wagner at WTTG-TV/FOX5 tweeted last night that it will be officially announced today (Wednesday) that radio transmissions for the DC Fire & EMS Department will once again be in the open. The department, as it has more than 15 years, will still have the ability to encrypt sensitive transmissions. (Read more in article by Aaron C. Davis at The Washington Post.)
2 sources tell Fox 5 the Mayor’s Office has agreed to reverse the encryption of @dcfireems radios. Announcement could come Wednesday.
— Paul Wagner (@Fox5Wagner) February 11, 2015
— Mark Segraves (@SegravesNBC4) February 11, 2015
While officials at Metro initially indicated that they believed encryption was behind the failure of DC Fire & EMS Department radios during the deadly subway incident on January 12, the best information available at the moment is that is not the case. Still, fire chiefs in the National Capital Region believe that DC’s encryption could seriously impact radio interoperability during mutual aid responses involving DC.
This is just one of many things the previous administration did that seriously impacts the DC Fire & EMS Department’s ability to respond to incidents daily and during major emergencies. It was made public just last Friday that Quander and Ellerbe were not big fans of training for firefighters and leaving the department far behind the region in sending firefighters to Metro’s training facility in Landover. The new administration is now playing catch up and began sending firefighters to the facility in recent days.
As Bowser and Young start digging they will find more and more policies from Quander and Ellerbe that need to be reversed and more areas where they will have to play catch-up. These include the purchasing and maintenance of apparatus and the hiring of firefighters and paramedics.
Let’s hope this move is a very positive sign for the DC Fire & EMS Department. While they are at it, let’s also hope that Bowser and Young have their eyes on cleaning up the place responsible for the radio system and DC’s problem plagued 911 system, the Office of Unified Communications (OUC).