Valley firefighter says violence against first responders on the rise

PEORIA, AZ - The ambush style shooting in New York that killed two firefighters is a wake-up call according to a one long time Valley firefighter.

El Mirage Fire Chief, and martial arts instructor, Howard Munding has been studying the trends over the past 20 years.   

His research shows that some 55-percent of firefighters admit to having been assaulted on the job.  An on-going survey currently being conducted is in line with those figures.

Munding said some unofficial data also indicates some uptick in trends. He said that drug use and often times economic pressures adds to tensions first responders are facing.

"We don't know what we are going into," he said. In some rural areas, it can take up to an hour before police arrive meaning firefighters and paramedics are sometimes in vulnerable positions when they're trying to help.

"In the fire service, and even in hospitals, people don't want to admit to being assaulted, he said. "They fear ridicule or think that no one is going to do anything about it, or they think someone might say that they can't do their job."

Munding also created a training program through his martial arts school called "Street Smarts" where he trains firefighters in self-defense techniques and teaches awareness and how to manage tensions on assignment.

Munding will be featured in January's Fire Chief Magazine highlighting some of his work.

He said his hope is to see more and on-going training for fire departments nationwide.




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