Firefighters attacked, apparatus damaged during civil unrest
Some rioters have thrown projectiles at fire crews, smashed apparatus windows, and tossed firecrackers under fire trucks while firefighters work
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Firefighters responding to emergencies related to civil unrest over the weekend have been confronted, sometimes violently, by rioters in several cities.
Fire departments and news outlets are reporting that some protesters and rioters – who have taken to the streets following the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died while in police custody on Monday – have damaged apparatus and engaged in violent confrontations with fire crews responding to emergencies.
In Atlanta, while fire crews were extinguishing a fire at a restaurant, windows were broken and other damage caused to the waiting apparatus.
Fire at Del Frisco’s Grille across from Lenox Mall is out. Windows broken and damage to numerous fire trucks. Firefighters picking up hose to leave the scene. @Atlanta_Police and @FultonSheriff protecting firefighters. #AFRD #ATL #Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/dwXXDL3iHk— Atlanta Fire Rescue (@ATLFireRescue) May 30, 2020
The Cleveland Fire Department shared that Ladder 23 was out of service due to a smashed windshield caused by rioters throwing projectiles at the apparatus while it was responding to a fire in the downtown area.
In Minneapolis – ground zero for the civil unrest – Fire Chief John Fruetel explained in a CNN interview on Friday that the fire department is taking a cautious approach to emergency response efforts, as fire crews have had projectiles thrown at them, and his chief’s vehicle windows were broken from rocks. The police department has been escorting fire crews where possible, creating a perimeter for firefighters to engaged in fire suppression operations. Fruetel noted that this is particularly important at night when it is harder to see income projectiles.
Rioters threw rocks at Charlotte firefighters who were attempting to rescue a protester who had fallen into a grate on the sidewalk, according to WSOCTV.com.
In Austin, rioters set fires and then harassed firefighters working to extinguish the blazes. According to Statesman.com, “Police officers moved to protect firefighters working to put out the blazes, as some in the crowd tossed firecrackers under firetrucks as they worked.”
In Rochester, N.Y., a firefighter was attacked and apparatus damaged while firefighters tried to access a fire scene, according to WHEC.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, a large firecracker or other explosive was thrown toward a firefighter responding to a dumpster fire, according to MLive.com. The firefighter was knocked to the ground and seen clutching at his ears. He was helped back into the fire truck, which then left the scene. It is unclear if the firefighter sustained significant injuries.
The Sandy Springs (Georgia) Fire Department reported having projectiles thrown at an apparatus as it responded into Atlanta.
In Columbus, Ohio, several fire vehicles were vandalized and damaged, according to ABC 6. Some were damaged while firefighters were extinguishing fires and one vehicle had its back window shattered by a brick or other thrown object while responding to a call.
In Avoca, Pennsylvania, crews were leaving the scene of a commercial fire alarm when a large chunk of ice was thrown at the apparatus, hitting a door and breaking up into chunks that hit several members, including the driver.
IAFC President Fire Chief Gary Ludwig condemned attacks on firefighters, plus the vandalism of a firefighter memorial in Rochester, New York, tweeting: "We have only 1 mission - save your life & property."
Attacking #firefighters with bricks & rocks & defacing memorials of dead firefighters who have sacrificed their futures for their community is totally unacceptable. We have only 1 mission -save your life & property. @IAFC #protests2020 @STATter911 #Riot2020 pic.twitter.com/dnbYYWCE87— Gary Ludwig (@ChiefGaryLudwig) May 31, 2020
This is a developing story.