Christmas Eve shooting raises questions about firefighter safety

Christmas Eve shooting raises questions about firefighter safety

Christmas Eve shooting raises questions about firefighter safety

On Christmas Eve, William Spengler Jr. allegedly set a fire in Webster, New York, to lure firefighters into a trap. Spengler Jr. ended up taking his own life, but not before fatally shooting two firefighters and wounding two others, CNN reported.

This tragic incident is a reminder of the dangers firefighters face every time they put on their gear and respond to a call. For some, it serves as an example of why rescue workers need to be armed.

The case for firefighters with firearms
While firefighters already receive firefighter basic training, Kip Teitsort, a veteran police officer and paramedic, would like to see these individuals receive the same level of preparation as law enforcement, KY3-TV reported. Even though incidents similar to the one that occurred in New York last month do not happen frequently, Teitsort said these professionals are attacked on a daily basis. As a result, Teitsort believes firefighters and emergency medical technicians should be trained to carry and use firearms.

“… When I hear this sort of thing I get frustrated, because there is no change,” Teitsort told the news source, in reference to the recent shooting. “There is no recognition that violence in medicine exist. It is like this dirty little secret.”

Firefighters understand the risk
News of the Christmas Eve shooting may have shocked those who have never completed firefighter training, but professionals in this line of work, such as Florida’s Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, understand the risks that come with rescue work.

“The moment you step out the door on a rescue, or truck, or ladder, you’re in a dangerous situation,” Wyse told First Coast News. “It could happen anywhere. So we always have to be mentally prepared to go into those situations.”

As firefighters are often the first people to arrive at the scene of an emergency, they never know what they will encounter. It is not uncommon for these unarmed professionals to be threatened by the very people they are trying to help.

While details from the New York ambush are certainly unsettling, Jacksonville firefighters are very familiar with tragic incidents involving rescue workers. In 1934, a firefighter was fatally shot when he responded to a call, while another firefighter was murdered in the 1970s on the night before he was set to retire.

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