Iowa fire dept. reverses on-duty weapon policy

The Delaware Township Fire Department implemented a policy that allowed responders to use guns on duty, but rescinded it after receiving criticism

By News Staff

DES MOINES, Iowa — A fire department is taking heat for a policy that would allow first responders to use guns on duty.

KCCI reported that the Delaware Township Fire Department approved a policy on Jan. 8 that would recognize “members’ right to carry a firearm under Iowa law.”

The policy, which Chief Evan Kellis said “had been in place for a while” and was merely being updated, added that first responders would only be allowed to discharge a firearm if they are in danger of death or seriously bodily injury, or if they are defending another person.

Former DTFD responder Travis Hurley, who left the department after not seeing eye to eye with Kellis, said “it’s just not a good policy.”

"In over 20 years of service in fire service, there has never been a single time or incident where I thought to myself, 'Boy, I sure wish I had a weapon on that call,'" he said.

Hurley added that guns would destroy the trust between first responders and their patients.

"You turn around then put a weapon on our side. Now you're going to look like law enforcement," Hurley said. "It takes away our ability to get to the bottom of the story and earn those peoples' trust."

Kellis said he and other officials decided it was “not the best policy” and rescinded the approval.

"Once we had written that policy, we kind of talked with everybody and went, ‘You know, the policy we had longstanding for a while is not a good policy. The policy should be that we don't carry weapons,’” he said.

Sen. Jeff Danielson, who is also a firefighter, said he agrees with the decision to rescind the policy.

"You're giving them a false sense of security that they can enter the scenes because they somehow have a gun now and can do something about it," he said.

Kellis agreed and said guns should be left to law enforcement.

"Carrying weapons is for a police officer who is duly trained and qualified to carry that weapon, not a firefighter," he said.

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