Attacks vary from rocks being thrown at them to firefighters being chased around fire engines by someone with a knife. One female firefighter even reported being slapped and kicked.
Most of the violent reports are coming from homeless camps, and now the Seattle Fire Fighters Union IAFF Local 27 is demanding that the city council take action.
Jim Fuda, the executive director of Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound, said he has never heard of attacks on firemen like this, even during his 33 years as a police officer.
Fuda explained the city’s homeless camps have become an issue, blaming drugs and improper handling of mental health. He said that the city needs to take accountability for mishandling the homeless problem.
“Accountability needs to be held,” Fuda said. He explained that since 2020, the city’s police department staffing is down 40%, and there aren’t enough officers to handle priority-one calls. He said there needs to be a different solution to the violence because there aren’t enough police officers to ride along with firefighters to keep them safe. “Some of these people need to go to jail, and the mentally ill need to be forced to take their medications and become productive members of our society.”
Fuda said firefighters have a right to demand safety at work. When they are on the job, firefighters want to feel protected so they can focus on the emergency situations they are there to help.
“So accountability is what the key is here, and more staffing,” Fuda reiterated.
Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office has launched the Homelessness Action Plan as an effort to address the city’s homeless problem. The city first declared a state of emergency for homelessness back in 2015 but has grown even worse since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“By acting with urgency and compassion we can – and will – move from crisis response to stability and sustainability,” Harrell said in a statement.