Ala. firehouse reopens after fatal shooting of firefighter
Birmingham Firefighter Jordan Melton was killed, and Firefighter Jamal Jones was wounded, inside Firehouse No.9
By Carol Robinson
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Birmingham Fire Station 9 reopened Wednesday for the first time since one firefighter was killed and another critically injured in a shooting five months ago.
“As you can image, it’s pretty bittersweet,’’ said Battalion Chief Clay Hendon. “A lot of them are glad to be back home with familiar faces but it’s difficult, and it’s going to be a challenge for some.”
“We’re still healing,’’ Hendon said.
Firefighter Jordan Melton, 29, was killed in the July 12 shooting. Jamal Jones, who has since been promoted to the rank of sergeant, is still undergoing treatment and has not yet been able to return to work.
Melton and Jones were shot just before 8:30 a.m. that Wednesday after they began their shift. They were performing routine maintenance in the station’s bay area when a gunman entered through the open bay door and opened fire in what police say was a targeted attack.
Birmingham police and Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service were called to the station, at 1228 27th St. North, where the firefighters had reportedly been shot in the chest and legs.
At least one caller reported hearing shots and ran to take cover in the bathroom.
The shooter entered the fire station through the open bay door, which typically remains open to be accessible to residents who need their blood pressure checked or other help or information.
No arrests have been made, and a reward of more than $40,000 remains in place.
Station 9, when fully staffed, has five firefighters per shift and make an average of 200 runs per month. They have been operating out of nearby station for the past five months.
Hendon said after the shooting, the crews were given the option to stay at Station 9 or transfer to another station. The third firefighter who was at the station when the shooting happened – the station’s captain - opted to be transferred to another station.
“Some did not come back and understandably so,’’ he said.
The station has been undergoing renovations since the shooting.
“There was a lot of damage done to the station during that incident,’’ Hendon said.
Station 9 went back live at 8 a.m.
Fire Chief Cory Moon was there to privately address the crews, and roughly 15 retired firefighters gathered at the station to show support for the returning firefighters.
The media was asked to stay away for the first couple of hours after the official reopening.
“The camaraderie we have let them get through this peacefully,’’ Hendon said.
Inside Station 9, there is a memorial plaque honoring Melton. Also, firefighters have permanently sealed off and locked Melton’s locker, with some of his personal belongings still inside.
Additionally, a scholarship has been established in Melton’s honor for the most outstanding recruit in each of Birmingham’s fire academy classes.
Hendon said additional, and significant, security measures have been put into place at Station 9, and all Birmingham fire stations.
He said obviously the department would like to see an arrest made in the deadly shooting.
Birmingham police on Wednesday said there are no updates for public release.
“I think we all want to have some accountability,’’ Hendon said, “but we also understand the process and as much as we would like information and updates, we have to allow the police to do their investigation and we don’t want them to compromise the investigation by giving out information that down the road could cause jeopardy for any kind of prosecution.”
“We would like to see justice for our brother,’’ he said.