Local firefighters react to New York ambush - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Local firefighters react to New York ambush


Local emergency responders, who kept watch throughout the holiday, couldn't help but think about their fallen brothers in Upstate New York and lessons they could learn from Monday's tragedy.

As flames engulfed homes in Webster, firefighters answering the call of duty were ambushed.

The news was devastating for other first responders, whose bonds reach far beyond the locality they serve. Captain Jim Mellon with Henrico Fire works about 500 miles from where two of his brother firefighters were shot and killed.

"We're the people that come out to help," he said. "Most of the men and women in the fire service spend their lives helping others and when we become the victim it's heartbreaking."

What happened in New York will most likely be in the front of local firefighters' minds as they respond to scenes in the future.

The problem is, explains Hanover Battalion Chief Larry Snyder, a gunman setting a trap to lure in and take out firefighters, is something no one would predict.

"To have that level of intent from somebody to hurt somebody else, especially in our profession, I don't think anybody would ever expect that," he said.

But they do expect certain threats when arriving on scene. Many local departments work with police to understand who lives where.

"In the past when we've experienced difficult working environments or hostile working environments or potentially unsafe through our law enforcement and our communication officers, we've flagged different things of 'we've had a previous issue at this residence,'" Snyder added.

Now, eliminating tunnel vision seems even more important.

"When we roll up to a house fire we train our people to observe the surroundings and have some sort of situational awareness," Mellon emphasized.

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