The risk of injury or death is an everyday possibility for firefighters, but departments say the news that it was gunfire that struck down their Webster colleagues is especially hard to take. Our Sarah Blazonis shows us how its shaken people used to facing danger on the job.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- "Everyone goes home." It's the motto of the Fayetteville Fire Department and a promise to those who put their lives on the line to protect their communities. Monday, the department gathered with members of the Manlius FD for a special prayer service in memory of the Webster firefighters who won't return to their families this Christmas.
"When something like this happens, even though it's occurring more and more frequently, it still confounds you as to why somebody would do this," said Fayetteville FD Capt. John Falgiatano.
It's a question departments across the state are asking.
"It's always in the back of your mind. We're there to help, but unfortunately the individuals doing this don't care that you're an emergency responder," said Cicero Fire Chief Jon Barrett.
Responders say keeping the community safe is their job, but there are also steps they take when they arrive on a scene to ensure their own safety.
"The first thing you are trained to do is look around, understand where you are, and make sure that your scene is safe," said Lt. Patrick Mannion, public information officer for the Fayetteville department.
And in chaotic situations, other agencies can also offer support.
"A lot of times we'll respond to EDP calls, emotionally disturbed person calls, where we'll get there first and we'll tell the ambulance or the fire department to stand by and not to come into the scene until we can get it stable," said Cicero Police Chief Joseph Snell.
But first responders say predicting such incidents in unpredictable situations is close to impossible.
"We wish we worked in a world where we didn't have to worry about individuals attacking us on scenes, but from time to time these stories surface and it makes us more aware," said Daniel Taylor, medic and public information officer with WAVES Ambulance.
And the deaths of their Webster colleagues is a sobering reminder likely to keep first responders' eyes open for a long time to come.