Greenville-area firefighters react to fatal ambush in NY - FOX Carolina 21

Greenville-area firefighters react to fatal ambush in NY

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The helmet of a firefighter is displayed among equipment at the Boiling Springs Fire Department. (Dec. 26, 2012/FOX Carolina) The helmet of a firefighter is displayed among equipment at the Boiling Springs Fire Department. (Dec. 26, 2012/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Two firefighters hurt by a New York gunman are sending thanks from their hospital beds. On Monday they were among those who responded to a blaze in upstate New York.

When fire trucks rolled up to the scene, a man opened fire on them killing two firefighters and then turning the gun on himself. Seven houses burned down.

Wednesday, two surviving firefighters said in a statement they are on the mend and humbled by the outpouring of support they've received. They're asking that acts of kindness be directed to others, including those who lost homes in the fire.

Investigators say the man who shot the firefighters, William Spengler, left behind a chilling note saying he hoped to burn down his neighborhood and kill as many people as possible in the process.

The news of what happened in Webster, NY hits too close to home for many first responders, some just getting back to their normal shifts after spending holiday time at home with their families.

"I got a phone call, and they said turn the news on," said Lt. Johnny Rabon of the Boiling Springs Fire Department. "It was pretty shocking what happened, you know we usually go to these things and we don't think about somebody shooting at us."

But he says first responders seem to be targeted more often these days.

"We have to look for a number of hazards now, but things are getting more dangerous everyday," said Rabon. "Something like this is likely to happen here."

Rabon says there are a number of precautions taken to protect both fire and EMS crews from violence. They won't enter a scene where someone has a weapon until it's been cleared by the sheriff's office, and a sheriff's deputy will most likely respond to a fire scene with the fire department. However, in Greenville, and in most fire departments in the nation, concealed weapons are prohibited.

The Boiling Springs Fire Department is featured in a new reality series aimed at showing the public what a typical day is like for the real life heroes. You can learn more about the series here.

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