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FR1 community: Should firefighters be armed?

Is it time for firefighters and EMTs to start carrying guns?

By FireRescue1 Staff
With reports of increased violence on calls, some responders are feeling more and more unsafe on the job. Now, some fire departments are considering arming their firefighters and EMTs. We decided to ask our Facebook community if they thought it was time for first responders to start carrying guns.
It was a pretty hot topic, getting almost 1,000 responses, some for, some against, and some who were on the fence about armed first responders. If you've got more to add, make sure to comment below. Here are some of the best responses we received:
"If we are allowed to open carry at work then I think just the presence of the weapon will make a lot of people that might try something think twice about trying anything." — Joseph L. Miracle Jr.
"Why not? [Firefighters and EMTs] face some of the dangers that cops and innocent citizens face everyday, and are obligated to do so!" — Paul Brannon
"I don't see why you wouldn't. You never know what will happen on calls in high-crime areas. I would rather have the means to protect myself and not need it than to need it and not have it." — Trey Buffington
"With training for concealed weapon permit, same rights as anyone else. People will shoot at you in rural settings also. Meth labs , drug dealers, even domestic fights can be dangerous. Don't always find what your dispatched for." — Steve Kinkead
"Absolutely! Firefighters put their lives on the line to protect others. Why not protect themselves, as long as they have the proper training." — Lana Totels
A weapon sometimes can escalate a situation rapidly and I don't think that firefighters and EMTs need the added stress and extra worry of that. If there is a situation that might seem like there needs to be a gun … have the police respond with that EMS or fire crew." — Zachary Chicoine
"The right answer is to hire more law enforcement. Period! What's next? Do cops need a set of irons due to the lack of firefighters? They are two separate professions for a reason!" — Tommy Shaw
"While I don't disagree on need to protect ourselves … I believe more in defensive tactics such as vests and pepper spray, rather than lethal offensive weapons such as guns." — Christopher Grace
"I would really hate to catch a hot job and have the ammo go off in my pocket. The job is dangerous enough." — David Waver
"No! It's time for the police to make sure scenes are safe before EMS personnel or firefighters enter. It already costs to arm firefighters with the PPE they need to do the job; we do not need to spend budget money on guns." — Dean Lappe
No easy answer:
"I really can't make my mind up on this one, on one hand it looks like a good idea, and the other how many innocent people are going to be killed or wounded by a accident. When you weigh how many firefighters or paramedics are killed or wounded does it balance or is this just another way to arm people in the country for more violence? Open to debate on this one." — Vernon B. Wells
"Would have to be a area thing. If heavy crime area, yes, but, small towns and areas with low crime, no. With EMT leaning over bodies it would be hard to pack a gun and help someone knowing that gun is that close to them. Supervisors be ok I guess." —Jay Rockburn
"As a recently retired 20-year fire veteran working in a mid-sized city with a relatively high crime rate, I have been involved in numerous calls in a volatile atmosphere. Prior to entering the scene we would wait for the P.D. to declare the area safe, and even then in many instances we would don our bulletproof vests under our PPE. I never felt that the crew needed to be armed to safely perform our duties. However, if you are working in an extremely violent city with extended police response times, there could be a justification to have a firearm located in a lock box on your apparatus similar to how meds are stored. But as far as carrying a gun on your person as a firefighter, absolutely not!" — Bruce Phillips

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