Public safety personnel trains to handle active shooters

July 19, 2016 –

Tempe is investing in training and equipment for safety personnel to assist them in active-shooter calls.

As part of the training, firefighters are partnering with police and will wear new, specialized protective gear.

Historically, firefighters would wait at safe distances from active crime scenes until police personnel reported that it was safe to enter and assist victims.

“We watch incidents unfold across the nation where active shooters have inflicted so much damage to people and property,” said Paul Nies, Tempe fire assistant chief.

“One of the things fire service in general notices is that first responders are usually kept out of areas that are relatively safe.”

For the training, Tempe police and the fire departments came together and created a joint command center. A fire command officer and a ranking police officer formed teams of firefighters, and armed police officers to enter areas that have been cleared to rescue victims, Nies said.

“Really, the biggest part of the training and the change came with the way those incidents are managed and commanded,” he said.

Tempe’s training is modeled after best practices advocated by the International Association of Firefighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the U.S. Fire Administration.

“Like any other skill, we’re going to continue to drill on this and do competitive training because it’s what we call a high-risk, low-frequency event,” Nies said. “There is a lot of potential and a lot of danger, and thankfully we are not doing this everyday. So we’ll get out on the practice field and we’ll do it over and over.”

He added that other departments throughout the Valley are beginning similar training. Those departments, Nies said, are not training the same way as Tempe.

“I think anywhere in the world now you can’t really say, ‘Oh, well, it won’t happen here,’” Nies said. “I don’t want it to happen here, but I have a high level of confidence that if it does we will be ready. I don’t know what we could do at this point to increase our state of readiness.”


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