Rapid Response: Fatal shooting leaves fire service asking 'why?'

Consider scene security, extra precautions for calls involving violence after fire captain dies in attack on responding firefighters

Every emergency response by firefighters and other public safety personnel is always a venture into the unknown. Read more about how that unknown is becoming increasingly violent; and how firefighter shootings are not common and cannot be treated as such in analysis from our industry experts.

The news of the death of Long Beach Fire Captain Dave Rosa and the wounding of firefighter Ernesto Torres has everyone in the fire service asking “why?”

First, this assault has left a veteran firefighter dead and we grieve for him, his wife and two children. We also want to support the second wounded firefighter and his family. But why did this happen? Aren’t we the “good guys” – we come to anyone’s aid no matter what the hour, who is in need or what the circumstances are. Don’t people know that we are there for them to render aid, not judgement, during the worst day of their life?

What happened: Preliminary news coverage appears to show that the Long Beach shooting occurred as firefighters arrived for the report of a fire in a multi-story apartment complex. Long Beach officials have reported a 77-year-old man set a fire to lure firefighters to his Southern California retirement home so he could shoot them.

Why it’s significant: Captain Rosa is not the first firefighter to die in an ambush like this incident. In 1998, a Toledo Fire Lieutenant was shot and several others injured while responding to the hospital with an assault victim, when the attacker rammed the first of two medic units and fired several rounds from a shotgun at close range at the firefighter/paramedics in an attempt to kill the victim of his initial assault.

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