DC firefighters will no longer encrypt radio communications

WASHINGTON (AP) -- District of Columbia firefighters will no longer communicate on encrypted radio channels.

Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the change on Wednesday. It will take effect in March. The fire department started encrypting its radios for security reasons under the previous mayor, Vincent Gray.

The move meant citizens and the news media could not listen to firefighters' radio communications and was unpopular among the rank-and-file of the department.

The department will maintain the capability to encrypt its communications when there's a security concern. City Administrator Rashad Young says in a statement that the change was made after a review that began in December, before Bowser took office. It was not done in response to radio problems that firefighters experienced during a fatal subway accident last month.

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