The local union representing Baltimore City Fire Department personnel is seeking some additional protection following more than a dozen attacks on first responders in the last two years.
This week, IAFF Local 734 released a video of one of those attacks to make the case for why its firefighters could use some protective vests and self-defense training. The clip, uploaded by WBAL, shows a fully naked man going after two paramedics outside their ambulance at a local hospital. While they manage to get the situation under control within a minute, their assailant does manage to throw them to the ground.
Yesterday, union president Rick Hoffman told outlets his members are seeking additional self-defense training and protective gear so they can better fend off attacks like this. He said such incidents have become more common since the 2015 uprising in which rioters looted stores, set buildings ablaze and tried to undermine firefighters’ attempts to put out fires.
Hoffman hasn’t returned a request for comment from Baltimore Fishbowl. However, he told WBAL-TV at least 13 attacks have happened in the last two years. The union has appealed to City Hall for protective equipment and training, which would carry an estimated price tag of less than $95,000, he said.
Asked about this yesterday, Mayor Catherine Pugh, a friend of the firefighters’ union, told the Sun’s Kevin Rector she was surprised the organization would share a video of a mentally ill man attacking paramedics with the public, and said first responders are supposed to call the police if something goes awry.
Negotiations over the funds for equipment and training are ongoing, she said.
In another recent attack on one of Baltimore’s sworn protectors, a fire marshal’s office commander saw a car crash at the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Pratt Street five days ago. He jumped out of his marked fire department SUV to help, only to be greeted by gunshots. The driver had allegedly stolen the car from a grandmother in West Baltimore. The accused shooter was later captured and charged with attempted murder.
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