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'A tragic day': Tucson Fire Department Chief reacts to shooting

Tucson Fire Chief Chuck Ryan reacts to the July 19, 2021, shooting that left two EMTs hospitalized, a fire captain shot and a bystander dead.
Posted at 5:14 PM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 20:24:12-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Tucson Fire Department and first responders around the country are still processing Sunday's shocking attack.

“It’s sad right? As fire and rescue, we are the guardians of the community’s health and safety and when a member of the community attacks us it really is a tragic day,” said Tucson Fire Department Chief Chuck Ryan.


Chief Ryan says this is sadly not the first time first responders have been ambushed while doing their jobs. He says quick thinking by EMTs and firefighters might have kept the shooting from becoming even more deadly. One of his captains was shot before even getting out of the fire engine but was still able to radio and warn others to stay away from the scene.

“Our captain who had been struck still had the presence of mind to make a clear and understandable radio call to the battalion chief who then told all other units to hold off and stay away,” he said.

Chief Ryan says firefighters train to respond to active shooter situations, but when they become the target of one it becomes about survival. Some of the firefighters found shelter in neighboring homes.

“Being in the midst of one is a different scenario. As you can imagine,” he said. “So our members are trained if they are in danger to seek immediate shelter and radio for help and that's exactly what happened.”

Chief Ryan says he does not agree with the idea of firefighters and EMTs carrying guns for protection, saying that would send the wrong message to the community.

“When that's in the universe of discussion it shows you where we are as a society and some real course correction is needed,” he said.