Pierce County firetruck robbed: Doing job safely a question, officer says

Jan 17, 2024, 5:48 PM

robbed firefighters pierce...

(Photo from James Lynch)

(Photo from James Lynch)

What was a routine food run for the firefighters of Pierce County Fire District 13 Monday turned into a troubling crime when their firetruck was robbed.

While inside a Tacoma grocery store, customers alerted the crew a group of people pulled alongside the truck in a U-Haul and ransacked it.

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“I was in disbelief for a second,” firefighter Alandra Swords said. “It took me a minute to comprehend what they were saying, and then I immediately raced out of the store.”

Expensive, lifesaving equipment was stolen, the crew reported.

“They got away with all of our saws – our chainsaw, our K-12 cutting tool, and our Sawzall,” Lt. Dylan Tapia said. “They got away with our medical equipment, our airway bag. They got away with an entire toolbox.”

The stolen equipment is valued at about $15,000 and will take at least two weeks to replace. But, more importantly, the loss of equipment hampers their ability to do their jobs and save lives.

“We’re still going to do what we have to do. It’s a question of whether we can do it safely,” Tapia said. “With our vehicle stabilization stuff, if a car is on its side, how are we supposed to keep that from rolling onto our firefighters? How are we supposed to continue doing CPR on somebody if we don’t have an AED? There’s a lot of stuff we can still do; unfortunately, we’re not going to be as effective until we get all of these supplies back.”

Why the truck was unlocked

Tapia explained the truck was unlocked because it is how the firefighters need to conduct their business during an emergency where every second matters.

“We can’t lock any of the doors on the apparatus,” Tapia said. “If I need tools, I need them now. I can’t be fumbling around keys trying to find stuff. I need those tools now. That’s why these compartments are never locked.”

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In the meantime, firefighters are taking from one truck to equip another. Tapia told KIRO 7 he hopes the thieves are caught and the equipment comes back as it will take time to dip into station funds to buy all new equipment that meets appropriate standards to help the community.

The Tacoma Police Department is handling the investigation. So far, they don’t have any suspects. Anyone with information should call 911.

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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