Tucson firefighters are learning how to defend themselves in dangerous situations.
Firefighters tell KGUN9 that staffing shortages in the department mean fewer first responders on certain calls. They're now learning a new skill at the Public Safety Academy - self defense.
"Sometimes they're targets of violence, and if we can mitigate that in any way that we can, that's what we want to do as police officers," Justin Kneup, Tucson Police defensive tactics coordinator said.
Kneup demonstrated takedowns on the mat Tuesday morning.
Tucson Fire training captain, Ed Hackett, says these firefighters are given the skills to handle situations they hope don't happen too often.
The training started last month as the department has been experiencing staffing shortages and firefighters being threatened.
"That's a trend that's happening nationwide and we're seeing it here in Tucson," Hackett said. "You know, just since January, we've had more calls where firefighters were subjected to violence that we haven't had in years past."
Since last August, there have been 36 incidents where firefighters use code 18 or 99 at a scene.
Code 18 means conditions are becoming potentially dangerous for firefighters. When conditions are currently dangerous with a present threat or attack, firefighters use code 99.
MAP: Over the past year, there have been 36 incidents where Tucson firefighters use code 18 or code 99 at a scene. Code 18 is in red, meaning conditions are becoming dangerous. Code 99 is conditions are currently dangerous. @TucsonFirePIO
— Natalie Tarangioli (@ntarangioli) August 8, 2018
So far this year there have been 21 calls.
Hackett says this basic training is a good start. They're learning defense tactics that are simple to remember under pressure, including how to disarm someone.
"None of them are intended to be cage fighters or anything out of this training," Hackett said.
Each quarter, Tucson Fire staff have a refresher course on skills needed in the field. This quarter is this one-hour self defense class that includes situational awareness classroom training.