Home Fire News National Debate: Should firefighters be packing heat while on the job?

National Debate: Should firefighters be packing heat while on the job?

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A Pulaski firefighter was shot and killed after responding to a medical call last week in rural Arkansas. Recent acts of violence against first responders– like in the case of Lt. Jason Adams –has sparked nationwide debate over whether firefighters should be packing heat.

While firefighters and emergency personnel in Dayton, Ohio said they want to be allowed to carry firearms on the job, some veteran firefighters in southern Illinois, disagree completely.

Chief Ted Lomax of the Carbondale Fire Department said his department won’t be allowing that any time soon. “We’re not going to put our firefighters in harm’s way when it comes to that,” Lomax said. “The police officers, that’s their job and they’re trained to do that so we let them do their job.”

There’s no doubt firefighters are faced with armed threats constantly while on the job, so it’s no surprise this question is fueling further debate. But it’s not just gunfire that ‘s a concern for first responders– it’s violence in any form against firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

In a recent study, researchers at Drexel University found that EMT’s and paramedics are 14 times more likely to be assaulted on the job than their firefighter colleagues.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale student Will Rolon said he thinks firefighters should be armed, “If they have to defend themselves then I think it’s necessary,” he said.

The City of Mount Vernon, Illinois has a policy against employees carrying firearms while on duty– with the exception of police officers.

Mount Vernon’s Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Sargent told KFVS, “Maybe down the road there may be a discussion about it…Our working relationship with our [police] department is tremendous. That’s probably why we haven’t had that discussion.”

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