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“Waco Fire Chief Bobby Tatum, said he’s adamantly opposed to firefighters carrying guns on duty,” reports. “’I would be in favor of leaving guns in the hands of police officers,’ Tatum said. ‘We have a specific mission to save lives and property, and I think carrying a firearm would cross the line in that regard.'” Yes well . . .

Sometimes first responders don’t know a violent threat is at the scene until they arrive, said Jimmy Rogers, a Robinson volunteer firefighter and city council member . . .  Rogers said he supports first responders carrying as long as they are licensed.

“Being licensed to carry while on a call or doing a fire department function is no different than having the need to carry while you’re a private citizen at home,” he said. “Those unfortunate situations can arise at any time, even on fire calls. Even during a fire call, there’s sometimes a heightened threat there.”

What do you think? Should EMTs and firefighters be allowed to carry on the job?

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  1. The “chief” sounds like a political appointee trying to cover his ass. Sounds like someone who hasn’t been out in the field in years.

    • True enough. There’s a couple other things under the surface too.

      1. There are significant delays in response times when they think there is a greater than average danger. EG had friend on ambulance who had to wait around for a cop car to drive into an area first before they went to find the gunshot victim that prompted the call. The victim died. Maybe would have anyway, but the delay did not help, and waiting on a cop with a handgun if you all have handguns in the first place eliminates one of the excuses for slow service. I’m actually on the side of forcing them to get permits so that the chief doesn’t have to send people into situations where he knows for a fact they cannot defend themselves. It’s immoral.

      2. It reinforces the incestuous relationship and lack of accountability in departments of public sector services. It gives police a monopoly. I have heard stories of EMS and Firefighters giving police special treatment because there would be retribution if there were complaints filed. Retribution as in “Don’t have any units available, you’re on your own to respond to that call about the crackhead stabbing 5 people in the head. Have fun EMS.” Retribution as in putting EMS/firefighters at greater risk until the message is taken, and behaviors altered to favor the police. Treasonous as it may be, this behavior is commonplace from my understanding, and unconstitutionally denying EMS/Firefighters means of self-defense aggravates this.

      3. When EMS/Firefighters violate constitutional rights of people, it’s basically like a really, really aggressive magazine salesman forcing into your house. He’s not trying to kill you, nor has he committed any crime except for violating your property rights.

      When firefighters have guns, breaking and entering now makes them essentially the SS with a red truck. EMS going through your pockets without consent is Gestapo, especially if they hold your front door open for police and comb through your possessions looking for “hints” about medical conditions and it’s really just to dig up your bud stash or unregistered SBR of the day.

      Violating someone’s rights because you think you’re the “good guys” or “heroes” is not cool, and should be met with lethal retaliation like the founders suggested. They get away with it a fair amount now, but strapping all of them makes them armed agents of state, and even less likely to receive our pity when they overstep and get ventilated.

      You’re right tho, that chief sounds like a tool. Too bad there wasn’t a mix-up at the Twin Peaks massacre and the Waco PD didn’t put a .556 through his treasonous skull.

      • While you are correct in your points, I would point out a little anecdote I got from my buddy who was an EMT in Madison, WI. It’s short and sweet. He had pictures on his phone of bullet holes in his ambulance. Would YOU be ok with telling my buddy that he can’t carry when he has already personally taken fire?

        • No of course not. I would argue that public employees fall under the jurisdiction of the state or federal constitution, not the “preferences” of the management. Their jobs are paid by our taxes, not a private owner, and their rights cannot be curtailed by some elected official who pretends like he owns the damn place.

          However, it is long acknowledged in common law and codified law of the United States and the individual states that certain criminal acts committed are made more offensive by the possession of a weapon at the time. Not sure this is wise or relevant, but that’s the way it is until someone spends 10 Billion dollars and cuts some throats to get it changed.

          EMS and firefighters often violate all kinds of constitutional rights in the name of “helping” someone. It just makes their job easier, and most of it isn’t directly due to malice.

          I guess I’m just suspicious of how unscrupulous people will figure out how to take advantage of it. I agree wholeheartedly that people in the public employment should enjoy the same liberties as everyone else. But I would want to see some stiffening of the definitions of privacy and property rights as well to hedge against the scum that gravitate towards positions of power.

      • Firefighters and medics aren’t rifling through your stuff to find evidence. I should know, I am one. We don’t care about your rifles or drugs unless its pertinent to the call, and mostly the cops are trying to get clear for something else more interesting. Its not some secret conspiracy, your fantasies about shooting any government official aside. As far as armed on duty, we’re not cops, but we work along side them. Carrying a gun in the confines of a rescue is asking for trouble, same reason COs don’t. Our job is saving lives not geting into shootouts. When I’m off duty, I carry, I shoot, I love my guns. But on duty I rely on experience and cooperation to keep me safe. Shit happens, but we’re all volunteers.

        • @ Mark M32 I agree, you won’t be getting into any shootouts from the sound of it. “Shootout” suggests that lead is going downrange in both directions.

          BTW You are paid. You aren’t “volunteers” like in the army sense because
          #1 you don’t subject yourself to any abridged code of rights like the UCMJ (which we’re actually arguing that you should have all of your constitutional rights, not just the ones your boss, your tax-payer-funded boss, likes).
          #2 many public sector workers are in unions and strike, volunteers don’t strike, and true service members get court-martialed for that kind of behavior.

          If you’re confident you could smell out an ambush or control what part of town you’re sent to, great. That’s your choice to claim you don’t need a gun.

          However, I’m not so sure about everyone you work with, and just because you want to give up your liberties doesn’t mean everyone else around you wants to, or does, for that matter. In the gun community, someone talking like you is what’s called a “Fudd.” Essentially someone who volunteers other people’s constitutional rights away for auction because he himself does not utilize them to the fullest extent that he is entitled.

          When I pay taxes, I don’t like the idea that the money goes to someone who uses that money and his position to distribute it in order to separate people from their God-given liberties. I don’t like the idea that I am passively participating in creating target-rich environments.

  2. I am for it,
    I rather have it and not need it,then need it and not have it.
    The world has change to a worse place

    • Support it. If I was an EMT, etc. , I would carry anyhow. Retired, but when I worked I CC’d anyhow, not up to them to tell me I couldn’t. Also ignore those pesky signs & don’t go anywhere with a scanner.

  3. Yes – for personal self defense. However, firefighters or EMTs should be focused on their primary mission, so leave the actual policing, as in taking crooks into custody, etc., to the cops.

    • Absolutely this! Firefighters and EMTs/Paramedics are just as entitled as anyone else to exercise their RKBA and more so if they are required to go into questionable areas and situations where they have no ability to apply the stupid people, stupid places, stupid things rule.

      In addition, FFs/EMTs/PMs often arrive on volatile scenes before the police can arrive to give them security and back-up. They need the ability to defend themselves and any patients on scene. They do have a specific set of jobs to accomplish, however, so I would not advise giving them any more arrest powers than the average citizen possesses.

      And look at the upside: if they do have to shoot someone there is no wait for the arrival of medical assistance. Perhaps it would be a good thing that they be allowed the ability to triage victims according to whether they were the original reason for the call or became casualties after the medics arrived.

  4. The Chief does make sense. Not all of the “finest” can be nor would they want to be “certified to carry”. I do believe LEOs can be called upon if needed for all responses now. The reality IS that even though they are firefighters, many would not be able to carry due to “legal situations” that would prevent them from personally own, let alone carry. IMO, it should be optional and discretionary. To have one, is an added bonus to the company’s capabilities.

    • The proposed rule WILL be optional. The chief knows this quite well but still doesn’t respect the civil rights of his employees.

  5. “We have a specific mission to save lives and property…”

    Yes. And sometimes, the life or property that may need saving could be your own.

  6. I was going to post a number of ‘firefighter shot’ stories to demonstrate that firefighters can be the victims of ambush and should have the opportunity to defend themselves as anyone but when I googled it I found about as many stories that led with “firefighter accidentally shoots self at fire station” so I’m thinking they may need some policies and training if they’re going to carry at work as well…

  7. They’re Americans, right? They should carry if they want. If their chain of command is concerned, issue a policy statement that fire guys should retreat when feasible and wait for police, but are not prohibited from using force to defend themselves.

    The most I would be comfortable with as far as government restrictions is maybe having them shoot some kind of qualification course, since they would be carrying while employed by the government.

  8. The reason it’s open policy that they’re unarmed is so that there’s no doubt that they don’t present a threat or represent an escalation. Unless mugging firefighters and EMTs becomes as common as the Average Joe, they’re not facing a threat in the way other people who do carry are. In case of a verified or suspected armed threat, police clear the area first and then the other responders can go in.

    Arming these guys reminds me of the Taser shotgun. Sounds like a great preventative tool on paper, in practice it turns out if you point a long gun at an armed person they’re not going to wait and see what it’s loaded with.

  9. As a Paramedic, hell yes if we choose.

    The people in my field opposed to it often say ‘but we’re not cops’… No shit, I’m not asking to enforce any other law than “do not murder me”

    • They didn’t have any with them at the “Branch Davidian Compound” point is the last thing we need is more cowboy’s strutting around with their head preoccupied with their presumed power pulling on their belt line.

  10. Bad Idea folks What it does and has happened in many areas is lean them toward an enforcement mindset, That means the people coming to care for your child’s broken leg are now looking for something to charge you with even more than they already are now. Lots of EMS people are way to LE minded and this increases and justifies it to them.
    Fireman put water on the fire !
    EMS put Bandages on the injuries !
    Cops put the criminals in jail !

    • That’s fucking retarded. A paramedic carrying a gun is no more a cop than I am nor would there be an expectation for them to act like one.

    • “Lots of EMS people are way to LE minded ”
      I’m thinking you’ve not known many EMS providers. As a Paramedic or as a Firefighter, I don’t get paid to be engaged in any kind of law enforcement. In fact, it just causes me hassles and pisses off my supervisors and the cops. I won’t to stay as far from that corner of the activity as possible.
      Emergency healthcare personnel could care less what you are guilty of.

      • There are a few firemen who are LE minded, but they are called Fire Marshalls and are already authorized to carry by the AHJ.

        When I get old and retire, that’s what I’d like to do – not because I care about the LE side, but because I’d like to live in a small town. There’s usually enough volunteer firemen around, but getting an FM to drive in might take a while. Having a volunteer who is an FM could go a long way towards keeping things safe and moving.

        But, you, and others, are right. I don’t want to carry right now to play cop. I want to carry so I don’t the 2am medical call doesn’t turn into a 2am aggravated assault and robbery.

  11. Yes. Also hospital staff.

    My brother works in the ER and dealing with violent patients tends to fall on him (the nurses are all small aging women and can’t do anything to physically stop them. He was on the wrestling team in school.). How long is it going to be before there is a situation requiring his gun and doesn’t have it?

    • “My brother works in the ER and dealing with violent patients tends to fall on him …”

      Then your brother’s Emergency Room needs to hire a couple bouncers to be present at all times.

  12. I’d want to carry when I’m doing the EMT gig and am in certain situations.

    Carrying while in bunker gear? (snort) How are you supposed to get at it? And if you go down in a fire with a round in the chamber, you’re putting your brothers in danger.

    Carrying while in wildland gear? Sure, OK – if you don’t mind yet more weight to pack uphill.

    • I’d rather EMTs had access to armor and plates, if they desire.

      Having once had a very small taste of what firefighters experience in a high heat environ, kevlar for them could easily lead to heatstroke…

      • In the hotter climates in the US, I can imagine heat stroke is an issue. Much like the lack of snow shovels in hardware stores in Yuma, AZ, the issue of heat stroke isn’t a common complaint in Wyoming.

        Here, in a fire, the biggest danger now is being too well protected. The new bunker gear (coupled with good wool underwear) means that you’re quite well insulated from the ambient heat. You can be moving around in a 350 to 400 degree environment and handling it OK.

        Then your SCBA faceplate starts to soften. Uh oh. That’s not good.

    • This might be the biggest challenge.

      Roll on a structure fire, you aren’t taking it or the holster with you. So you leave it…unsecured in the truck? Waste time taking it to the chief? Hoping the DO can keep an eye on it? Maybe you leave it in the empty station, where there isn’t a safe?

      Or, you roll on a gas check or medical call, so you have it. On this call you have it. On the way back, structure drops. Now the station option is gone and you’re still figuring out what to do.

      Or, you roll on the gas check and it turns out you’re getting jumped. Or it was domestic violence, but it got called in as traumatic injury. Or, if it’s our dispatchers, you have a mass shooting and it gets dispatched as a flu/fever.

    • Dyseptic Gunsmith and Katy bring up important points.

      The easiest answer is that EMTs and Paramedics should be able to carry handguns (if they choose) no matter what. As for firefighters, I don’t see a good answer since they would not be able to access a handgun (with any practical speed) when they are wearing all of their protective gear. Maybe the best solution for firefighters is to keep a 20 gauge shotgun locked up in the truck???

  13. Off duty at least, the most of the firefighters I know are bigger gun guys and are better armed than most of the cops I know.

  14. We send firemen and EMTs into neighborhoods they would stay out of if they had a choice. We expect them to treat victims of domestic battery, often while the dunk/crazed perpetrator is still in the house. We expect them to extinguish house fires set by enemy gang members who might still be lurking. We expect them to treat gunshot wounds caused the same way.

    Let’s not require that they go into these war zones unarmed, and let’s not force them to wait for the SWAT team to show up and secure the area before they go in. Either situation would be immoral.

    • I was an NREMT Instructor. If the provider is concerned for their safety at all, the protocol is that they withhold any care and leave the scene until it is secured by law enforcement. Scene safety is always first. If you didn’t do that, you might be sued, and you would almost certainly be fired.

      • Yep.

        What are the first two test points on all the NREMT practical skill exams?

        1. Is the scene safe?
        2. I’ve checked that I’m wearing my PPE.

        If you don’t ask the examiner “Is the scene safe?” and receive a “Yes” response to the question, you fail. You fail the practical medical exam module right there – regardless of whether you got all the medical skills issues correct.

      • How do you know if/when the scene is safe? That was my point (perhaps not well made). Aren’t there always unforeseen dangers, especially human dangers prevalent in certain neighborhoods, in a scene that seems safe?

        I see firefighters & EMTs like pizza delivery drivers. They never know when they’re being summoned to an ambush.

        • “I see firefighters & EMTs like pizza delivery drivers. They never know when they’re being summoned to an ambush.”

          That brought another point to mind: firefighters, EMTs, and Paramedics are frequently out-and-about while NOT on calls and could be victims of violent crime at any time.

        • Yeah, but what if the call was for someone with chest pain, that when you roll up on scene, turns out was caused by a girl on meth, and the boy friend runs out to tell the ambulance crew that the girl is threatening to shoot the ambulance crew cause she thinks they are cops? So the ambulance crew backs off and calls PD. (This call actually happened)

          The point is, you never know when the call really could be something needed to be cleared by PD, until you show up on scene.

  15. 1. You lived in a small town full of redneck want to be hero’s and retired school teachers making up your voluntary emergency response teams.
    2. Recorder facts show these rubber boot “BOZO’S” have never lost a basement or dead body yet !
    3. Dha; what was your question?

  16. As a volunteer firefighter, the issue is retention. Most of our work is outside, working MVA’s and brushfires. IWB would work here, but OWB would be pretty challenging. Not only is it even more gear and more weight, but you are working with so much equipment around and on you that it would be a constant challenge to make sure you had positive control of the weapon. Once that SCBA went on with the rest of your bunker gear? Ridiculous. Not only are you blind from smoke half the time, but even if you could see, how would you get to it in your gloves. even if it was OWB? Plus, you’ve either got a hose, ax or motorized saw in your hand. The problem there is that most of the time you don’t show up in your SCBA. You get to a scene and then realize you need it on. So where does your gun go? Locking it up in the engine isn’t a real thing.

    As a medic, I’ve been one OWB armed with a civilian population. It’s not good. Your entire focus is on that patient. You can try to be aware of your environment, and you really should be, but there are some injuries that just require all of your attention. And then there’s multiple patients. Patients have tried to get my weapon and I had a bystander in Afghanistan try and get my weapon, only to end up as my next patient. That’s not going in the right direction. IWB and very concealed can work for medical personnel, but never OWB.

  17. I hate when I hear “But we’re here to heal and a gun does the opposite….”

    Yea well, that bull crap isn’t gonna stop the phyco bad guy from taking shots at my buddies and other innocent people.

    Try being me for a while, 45 minutes from a police response on a good day!

    Think about that, thats 45 whole minutes for bad guy to do whatever it is he needs, 45 minutes of terror for victims, 45 minutes too late to stop an event.
    In my neck of the woods, police come to figure out who’s responsible, not to stop actions.

    Take that inner city “everyone has their own job” and flush it down the toilet

    Besides, why not let us carry, we all do anyhow……

  18. Of course FF should have the option to be armed. I know they get attacked by lowlife scum in Chiraq…while trying to save their freakin’ relatives:(

  19. “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Are EMTs & Firefighters people?

    And by the way, what’s with this “should they be allowed” language?
    The better way to put it is “Should be government be allowed to exceed the limits of its authority and trample the rights of any subset of ‘the people’?”

    • ^ This!

      Plus never forget that Police are just people doing a law enforcement job we hired them to do for us. We all are able to enforce the law as well, because ultimate authority comes FROM the people.

      • “We all are able to enforce the law as well, because ultimate authority comes FROM the people.”

        Silly serf! Your masters will be coming soon to take you to the nearest re-education camp.

  20. I would have very little problem with either FD or EMS carrying on duty. I’ve had more than one EMS friend get shot at while trying to render aid. It would be better if the local cops showed up and pulled security for their safety, but I see what they’re gettin at and it is their right to carry. That being said, I would strongly discourage any FD to carry in their turn-out gear. That aint popcorn, son!

  21. As a retired paramedic with over 20 years service in EMS, I think carrying a firearm is a good idea. However, I don’t believe that making it real obvious is the best way to do it. A small pouch that conceals the handgun would work nicely, but still easy to access. I also believe that training either by the police or a police approved instructor would be a wise thing to do, with routine required re-qualifying on a set schedule. I personally transported a patient from a car accident that only later did we find out that the individual murder two people and stolen the car and was still armed with the gun he had used. We were very lucky that he didn’t kill us and steal the ambulance to get away. Just like handling drugs or a defibrillator, if you aren’t well trained it can have disastrous results.

  22. Yes if the individual feels the need to. It should be their choice. Then of course you run into the powers the have. As or the same as a LEO?? Or as a civilian who choses to carry. I think there lies the rub.

  23. Firemen in Germany and other countries have been armed for quite some time with no substantial degradation of mission. There it is part of the job.

  24. If they want to then they should be able to when it doesn’t create a significant safety hazard. (I’m not sure firefighters wearing shoulder holsters inside a house that’s on fire would be the best idea ever.)

    I wouldn’t make it a policy that they must, but the policy should allow them to carry if they wish to carry.

    One of the things that has rattled around in my skull for years is Israel style terrorism. A event occurs and then the first responder units sent to that event are a secondary or tertiary targets. Really, here in the US we’ve been quite lucky in regards to terrorism, that luck likely will not hold forever. Eventually you’ll get a group or groups of whackos that are dedicated to their cause, reasonably intelligent and don’t fear death. That combination is a dangerous one.

    • keep in mind not every call a firefighter makes is into a blazing building.
      Different firefighters have different jobs, some guys only drive the trucks, some do command, some work outside, half the calls for firefighters are to support EMS, I would say about 3% actually involve seeing heat. That leaves 97% of your duty you can protect yourself on.

  25. Here in Pa at least, there isn’t really a law against it.
    There is however in the DOT laws a statement saying that you cannot have weapons on an emergency vehicle, except cops.
    In some nitwits infinite wisdom, they never thought the owner of the ambulance (the emts) might want to carry, given, at the time the law was written it wasn’t as popular or needed.

    So at worst, you’re committing a traffic violation.

  26. GEEZ! I feel like I just read a discussion on arming school teachers. “we can’t possibly do our job and carry” “we are not cops” “guns are dangerous” “the places we work are dangerous” “the places we work aren’t that dangerous” “we have civil rights too” “the patients will take them” “students will take them” “I am an ex operator” SHEESH!

  27. In Ga thieves have been targeting firehouse parkinglots stealing guns out of first responders vehicles. I’d rather them carry then then have them left in there vehicles

  28. What do you think? Should EMTs and firefighters be allowed to carry on the job?

    You firefighter and emt guys and gals are up and down and in and out and bending over and reaching across and all kinds of things with your patients and all happening within bad-breath distance of people who may or may not be completely lucid or trustworthy so if you’re going to carry you gotta use a retention holster.

    Beyond that simple requirement why should they be prohibited from carrying?

  29. Although I do see it as a personal choice, I also respect that it’s up to the discretion of the chief and department as well. There is a chain of command. Yes, it’s a constitutional right. But so is telling your boss to go fuck himself while you pray to a Santeria shrine in your squad bay.

    So yes, on an individual level everyone should be permitted to carry if they want. But on an institutional level, I’d like to see some statistics. For example, for firefighters and EMTs, would more lives be saved if they were all armed vs. injuries/deaths due to negligent discharges when, for example, trying to pick up Glocks with giant gloves on in the middle of a fire? Are there valid numbers for this? I’m really interested in this aggregate number. That would determine for me if the departmental regulation is valid or not.

    • ” trying to pick up Glocks with giant gloves on in the middle of a fire? ” Really? A dumb ass statement. Good point about glock though, don’t allow them.

      • That wasn’t even my main point. Maybe that one was a stupid example but since you’re obviously a fireman and I’m not, you got a better one?

        • Yes, in the rush to get dressed and geared up and rush to a scene the chance of dropping your firearm is high, just ask any firefighter how many things like cell phones or flashlights or radios have been dropped or yanked out of holsters.
          But again, not every call is a rush into a burning house, you could pick and choose when and where. In half a second it could be in a locker locked at the station in the truck room.

      • Of course we don’t wear them when we’re in our bunker gear fighting structure fires. The engineer can still be armed though. The world has changed, and there too many attacks of firefighters and medics on calls. It would be great if LE was at every call to watch our backs, but that doesn’t happen. It would be great if the world went back a few decades before people felt the need to assault anyone who displeases them.

  30. No… The cons vs. Pros do not favor carry. The dept. Lialibity alone for a firefighter use of force makes this a non starter. Stick to water hoses & ladders.

  31. Yes, but not as a special favor (i.e. only if regular citizens can).

    In my state, I would be wholeheartedly opposed to this without shall-issue licensing/constitutional carry. I’m not trying to be part of the “some pigs are more equal than others” problem.

  32. Shit yeah. Here in NC I know for a fact they make the EMTs in Durham wear bulletproof vests because ambulances were getting shot at. I believe that they should be able to respond with authoritay!

  33. As a VFF in a rural area I say, yes, allow carry. But make it concealed or in a retention holster, and maybe require annual quals.
    The number of times the SO never shows up (or leaves) a bad scene means we MUST be allowed to carry. How many fires are meth labs? How many wrecks are caused by drunks? How many brush fires are arson? All of these cases mean there is a significant increase in risk at these scenes. And given that in a rural area there’s not that many burning buildings to enter, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

  34. Arm and train the officer and engineer on the truck. Gve the EMS folks the option and the training . Has nothing to do with law enforcement. Strictly personal protection. Times have changed drastically from my days responding. It’s necessary today.

  35. I believed that all FF/ EMS personal should be able to carry an firearm as long it’s doesn’t prevent them from doing their job. I am retired IFSAC FF2, NRA PISTOL INSTRUCTOR , NRA RIFLE INSTRUCTOR & NRA RANGE SAFETY OFFICER.


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