Union: Fire fighters feel unsafe after police violence

Union: Fire Fighters feel unsafe after police violence

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "Right after the tragic shooting of the police officers in Baton Rouge, I had conversations with the fire chief about suspending the canvassing of neighborhoods by fire fighters," said Nick Felton, President of Fire Fighters Union.

Every Saturday, fire fighters go door-to-door, asking people if they have working smoke detectors, and then helping to install them for free.

It's a campaign that Felton now believes is unsafe for first responders.

"They have a badge, and they have a radio and a lot of people can't distinguish them between fire fighters and police officers," Felton said.

He pointed out that fire fighters do not carry guns or wear bulletproof vests.

"Our guys have walked into situations that have become violent, and they've had to get out quick. There's been guns hanging around, and we're just not trained to do that," Felton said.

Felton said fire fighters are feeling the same level of anxiety as police officers across the nation since the recent attacks. He sent an email to Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell asking him to suspend the campaign.

McConnell, however, refused. He stated the importance of the program and said he isn't aware of any threat against first responders.

"We have not had any credible threats, and they don't cause me alarm to be afraid of the citizens in our community," McConnell said.

McConnell said fire fighters are told to have a heightened sense of awareness and to call police if they feel unsafe.

"Look, we realize that we do a dangerous job, but you have to mitigate some of that risk. You can't just always assume that things are going to be OK. You can't always assume that you're going to get a credible threat before something happens," Felton said.

"The comment was made, well, wouldn't you feel responsible? Well, I would have to take those circumstances into consideration. What I know I'm responsible for is blood on my hands if someone dies in a fire because I refused to put in a smoke alarm there," McConnell said.

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