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Southwest Florida firefighters on edge after NY shooting


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Southwest Florida firefighters on edge after NY shooting

By Matt Grant. CREATED Dec 27, 2012

CHARLOTTE COUNTY - After a gunman opened fire on firefighters in upstate New York, killing two, some firefighters in southwest Florida have been on edge.

Inside the Charlotte County Public Service building, Dep. Chief Jason Fair is listening to a nightmare.

"It grabs your attention," said Fair. "And certainly gives you goosebumps."

Fair played us the chilling radio recordings as firefighters in upstate New York described "multiple firemen shot."

"There are inherent dangers to the job absolutely," said Fair. "And those we train for and prepare for. And this is one of those that is not part of your regular training."

The county's emergency responders already partner with the Sheriff's office. Deputies respond with them on most calls. In some cases, like domestic violence, firefighters stay back until law enforcement has cleared the scene.

Still, Fair admits there is always danger.

"Do you worry about copy cats?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"Absolutely," said Fair. "Because we don't know the reasons for this incident we can't guarantee that we're exempt."

Because of that, firefighters like Lt. Tony Thomann say they will be looking over their shoulders.

"We might take a moment or two before we get out of the truck to check the area," said Fair. "To see if there's anything out of the ordinary."

Fair says now is a good time to review response protocols to see if anything can be done differently. In the firefighter brotherhood, when one of their own is killed, the toll is felt by all.

"When somebody from the fire service is killed in the line of duty," said Fair. "It's a loss for all of us."

Fair expects there will be some long term changes that will come from this tragedy in terms of how firefighters are trained.

Matt Grant