One firefighter was killed and another wounded this week responding to a fire and explosion at a nursing home. One resident apparently set off an explosive to kill another resident, with whom he was feuding, then shot at first responders.
This is not the first ambush shooting to target firefighters. While these instances are rare, the possibility of targeted violence adds one more layer to an already dangerous profession. Reminders of situational awareness only do so much as many of the past shootings had no warning or indicators until the first shots rang out.
After a similar shooting incident in Los Angeles in April, FireRescue1 discussed safety in the changing response environment and how “nothing can be assumed an accident, coincidence or routine call” today. New hazards and risks require new techniques, procedures and plans, and a trained workforce to handle it.
Fire and EMS training in active shooter situations — whether it is the public being targeted or first responders — is lacking. Departments should conduct exercises with state and local law enforcement in a variety of violence-related scenarios. Another option is EDGE training, available free through the Department of Homeland Security.
Law enforcement agencies should also take the initiative to train their personnel in fire and EMS operations, working active shooter incidents on the fireground and cultivate a team approach regardless of uniform.
Remember: no call is routine, and unfortunately we have to assume a constant threat of deliberate harm.