Threats Force Tulsa Firefighters To Use Police Backup

Tuesday, September 8th 2015, 11:16 pm
By: News On 6

Confrontations with homeless people are forcing Tulsa firefighters to respond to calls in a certain area of town with extra backup.

Firefighters said they've been threatened by large crowds and attacked under a downtown bridge on the west side of the IDL.

They said they’re tired of being targeted while doing their jobs, so now they’re heading out with extra fire crews and Tulsa police.

Station 2 sits just outside of downtown Tulsa, so they are the ones who respond to calls at the Maybelle-Brady Bridge.

The firefighters said they've had whiskey bottles thrown near them, been punched and one person they got into an argument with had a knife.

The area has become a gathering place for the homeless, especially on Thursday nights during Night Light Tulsa, when a group of volunteers feed hundreds of homeless people.

Firefighters said when volunteers left a few weeks ago, and they responded to a medical call, things got heated, and a crowd gathered and threatened them.

Tulsa Fire Captain Stan May said, "They need to realize all we are there to do is help, and someone from their group, or in that area, has called for help and that's all we are there to do."

It wasn't the first time a situation like that has happened, or the worst.

Firefighters said another night, while responding to a fire under the bridge, the crowd became hostile and said they were going to kill them and wanted to get them fired.

They said punches were thrown at them and a few of the homeless people ended up in handcuffs.

"Several of the individuals are filming the situation, and a few of them are trying to make the situation confrontational and get some film of somebody doing something improper," May said.

Now when firefighters are called out to respond to emergencies under the bridge or in nearby neighborhoods, they go out with an extra truck - with at least three extra firefighters - and a Tulsa police officer.

May said, "It takes an officer off the street that could be dealing with something else, it takes a fire crew, another fire crew, off the street."

He said the extra crews mean extra protection for both firefighters and people they are trying to help.

Extra crews will continue to go out until firefighters feel there is no longer a threat responding to calls in that area.

*The incidents reported are in no way related to Night Light Tulsa, one just happened to occur after one of the organization's weekly events.