DALLAS - Dallas Fire-Rescue personnel have been ordered to wait for police to arrive and assist in dangerous situations in the wake of an incident involving a knife-wielding man chasing firefighters over the weekend.
On Saturday, firefighters and police received a domestic violence call at an apartment complex in far north Dallas. Firefighters got there before police and the man chased them with a knife.
The words of Lieutenant Jason Johnston about what happened were alarming.
"Last night I thought I'd made my last call," he wrote in a statement.
The crew on the phone with 911 requested emergency assistance and asked if Richardson officers could come to help. It took 17 minutes for Dallas officers to arrive. They arrested the man and thankfully no one was hurt.
Dallas-Fire Rescue said from now on its crews will stage in a safe place and wait for police to arrive when responding to a potentially dangerous call.
Records obtained by FOX4 show Saturday was not the only time firefighters have been in dicey situations. Out of 414 Dallas Fire calls between January 2018 and July 9, 2018, firefighters had to wait for police backup 269 times.
The Dallas Firefighters Association posted on Facebook about the internal change saying, “Firefighters are in danger due to the lack of police coverage in Dallas.” They said it is completely unacceptable and called on the city to make public safety a priority.
The president of the Dallas Fire Association knows the new directive will not be popular with his fellow first responders.
"It goes against our makeup; the way we think. We're there to help someone, and told now to stay back and wait,” said Jim McDade. "We don't want to be perceived as the ones not there to help when we are there to help."
The Dallas Police Association also responded and said it backs the fire association. For years the DPA has been calling for more police officers.
“Our deep night staffing is half of what it used to be. If you have a fatality, takes 5-10 officers, if you have another shooting or stabbing, and then you have this, where are you going to get your manpower,” said DPA President Mike Mata.
Fire chief David Coatney, who was not available for comment, confirmed those concerns are why he's ordering his personnel to wait for police backup in potentially violent situations.
"We owe it to them to protect them. We should be able to have the manpower to get there,” Mata said.
The city is 600 short of the authorized 3,600 police officers.
Both DFR and the Dallas Police Department said they will be investigating what happened over the weekend to see if proper procedures were followed.