Firemen taken hostage forces metro dept's to consider training - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Firemen taken hostage forces metro departments to consider training

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Gwinnett County police and fire chiefs are trying to make sense of Wednesday's hostage standoff.

The heads of Atlanta and Decatur fire departments are also trying to figure out ways to prepare their fire crews for this very situation.

Both chiefs told CBS Atlanta News Thursday that training currently doesn't exist.

"In the future, we are going to develop what type of knowledge skill sets would be necessary to equip firefighters to deal with that type of situation," said Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran.

Decatur Fire Chief Toni Washington said coincidentally, her department spent the last two days developing codes for their crews to relay to fire dispatch when teams are in distress.

"Events like this make us think and put together different training programs to prevent things like this from happening in the future," Washington said.

Wednesday's standoff marks the second situation in the last six months where firefighters were targeted.

Firefighters responding to a fire in Upstate New York last December were killed by a sniper.

The two tragedies raise the question - should firemen bear arms?

Cochran and Washington say no.

"Two incidents in a six-month period of time. I don't believe there is a significant trend to begin to think of arming firefighters," Cochran said.

Instead both Cochran and Washington believe the focus should be on making their firemen aware of all potential danger.

"Firefighters, ya know, our instinct is to protect people," Washington said. "So we are going to continue to do that, but we're also going to consider safety with ourselves and be a little more aware of what's around us before we just go running in."

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