Utah fire recruit has equipment stolen before first shift

He found his passenger side window was broken and his fire coat, pants and badge were all taken


By Pat Reavy
The Deseret News

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — It was one of Colby Robison's proudest moments. After seven weeks of grueling training, Robison had graduated from the fire academy.

On Sept. 30, he received his badge and fire protective gear, including his fire coat with his name emblazoned on the back.

And at 7 p.m. that day, he went to a restaurant near 3000 South and 2000 West to meet his parents for dinner to celebrate his achievement.

When he walked back to his car in the parking lot about 30 to 45 minutes later, his passenger side window was broken and his fire coat was gone along with his protective fire pants, his backpack containing all the books he had just used to study for his final, and his badge.

After having his badge for less than an hour, and before he even worked his first shift, it was all gone.

"I didn't believe it," Robison said. "I worked really hard to get that."

Robison called his captain to explain what had happened.

"I was scared to tell him," Robison admitted, noting that he worried about still having a job.

Fortunately, there was a spare jacket and pants.

Two days later, while Robison was working his first 48-hour shift, his unit was called to a house fire.

He was able to respond in borrowed gear.

Although West Valley City will replace his stolen protective gear, both Robison and other firefighters are disappointed that someone would steal the equipment of a public servant.

"It's pretty rare," West Valley Fire Marshall Bob Fitzgerald said about people stealing fire gear.

"Most of the time people respect that and don't touch it."

Even when firefighters play pranks on each other, they always leave each other's protective equipment alone, he said.

Robison's stolen coat and pants were still in the manufacturer's boxes, so he doesn't believe the burglar knew what they were taking.

The gear costs about $2,000.

But Robison said unless you're a firefighter, it's essentially worthless.

"Obviously they didn't want fire gear," he said, noting that his boots and fire helmet, which were not in boxes, were left in the car untouched.

"I don't see why people have to do it. I don't think I'll ever get it back."

West Valley City was able to get a new fire coat and pants quickly for Robison.

But as he talked to reporters Thursday, there was still a blank area on his uniform shirt where a badge traditionally goes.

Robison did not know Thursday when he might get a new one.

The protective clothes are custom made for each individual firefighter.

The coats are designed to take them into rooms that are 350 degrees, Fitzgerald said.

"It's a sad thing," Fitzgerald said. "It's just sad that someone would take something designed to protect lives. There's really no use for it other than fighting fires."

Anyone with information on the stolen fire gear can call police at 801-840-4000.

Copyright 2010 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

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