By Leila Merrill
SEATTLE — In response to recent attacks on on-duty firefighters, council member Andrew Lewis is proposing two strategies to help protect the first responders, KOMO News reported.
Lewis is considering a proposal to make it illegal to obstruct a firefighter from aiding someone or putting out a fire. Currently, Seattle does not have such a law.
He also wants to make it possible for more mental health clinicians to go with firefighters on calls through an expansion of the Health One program.
“Look, there’s a lot of people doing weird things post-COVID, and our first responders have to have all the tools to respond to a variety of things that pre-COVID they were never exposed to,” Lewis said.
The council member’s proposals follow a July 26 letter from the Seattle Firefighters Union to the city council urging policy changes after about 40 alleged attacks on on-duty firefighters over four months, King5 reported.
“We battle structure fires, vehicle fires, explosions, electrical hazards, chemical hazards, structural collapse, and infectious diseases, but we have been slow to recognize that intentional physical violence against firefighters is unacceptable. It is not the same as a burning building or a car wreck,” Seattle Fire Fighters Union President Kenny Stuart wrote in the letter.
Stuart also said that the total number of attacks may be higher as some are not reported.