Fire departments around metro Atlanta are making drastic security changes after several break-ins of on-duty firefighters’ vehicles. One local fire chief’s proposal would allow firefighters to bring handguns into fire stations.
Morrow Fire Chief Roger Swint presented the policy to Morrow City Council on April 25. It would allow firefighters with a valid gun permit to bring a handgun into the station -- without ammo -- and it would then be secured in the firefighters' lockers.
The proposal comes weeks after a firefighter’s car was stolen from a station in that town. Days later, a gun was stolen from another firefighter’s car.
Forsyth County has also seen several thefts at fire stations. Back in January, cars at five stations were targeted – with several guns stolen.
"We had a number of fire stations hit with a lot of damage done to our troop's personal vehicles,” said Forsyth County Division Chief Jason Shivers. "We are on guard. Our troops know to have their vehicles secured, limits the valuables you leave in the vehicle."
County commissioners have set aside $300,000 for security improvements at Forsyth County’s 13 stations. Upgrades will include security lighting, camera systems, additional fencing and passcards to enter parking lots.
"Again as deterrence to deter these criminals from taking advantage of our troops when they're at work - and also if it happens again to try to give us some advantage to bringing them to justice,” Shivers said.
Forsyth sheriff deputies are also driving by fire stations more frequently.
Forsyth County and the city of Morrow are not alone. Last July, Station 11 in Atlanta was hit twice, with a handgun being stolen. fire stations 14 and 15 also reported break-ins.
in January, six Gwinnett County fire stations were hit, with guns and other valuables being stolen.
Firefighters at several stations in Coweta and Fayette County became victims in March.
In April, Henry and Clayton County firefighter's cars were also broken into.
Morrow’s city attorney is reviewing the policy proposed by Swint. It’ll be passed up to the City Council for a decision. In addition to that policy, the department is making a budget proposal for new security cameras, improved lighting outside of the fire stations and trimming back plants for better visibility.