Group trying to buy protective gear for Colorado Springs firefighters

Posted at 10:01 PM, Jun 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-26 00:01:41-04

It isn’t a new problem, but Colorado Springs firefighters tell News 5 it deserves more attention.

Early Monday morning, when responding to a structure fire, a California firefighter was shot and killed in what police believe was an ambush attack. Early investigation shows the fire, which happened at a senior retirement community, could have been a setup.

Capt. Dave Rosa, a 17-year veteran of the Long Beach Fire Department, was killed. He was 45.

With flags already at half-staff, the International Association of Firefighters Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Colorado Springs gained another name. The loss of a firefighter 1,000 miles away felt here at home.

"This affects everyone in America, when something like this happens, and I think everyone can appreciate that that man is not going back to his family," said Capt. Brian Vaughan with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. "His family is now orphaned, because of a careless act of gunfire."

It wasn’t just felt by our firefighters, though. Jesse Weddle, a firefighter serving as secretary-treasurer of the Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters, said it’s impacting their support systems too.

"We leave for 24-hour shifts or longer, and we have spouses and children and moms and dads at home that are just as worried about it, if not more, than we are," he said.

Weddle said it’s an issue worth more attention, and an effort to do just that is already underway.

It’s called The Protect Effect led by Meredith Vaughan, CEO of Vladimir Jones in Colorado Springs, which launched in February after the shooting of El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick. And it’s more than just a project for Vaughan, because her husband Brian is a firefighter.

"I can imagine what that family’s going through. I know that our fire department and other first responding agencies would feel the same pain that the Long Beach Fire Department is feeling today," Vaughan said.

That’s why she’s raising money for the Fire Foundation of Colorado Springs to purchase some form of protective gear for the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Right now, the department is determining what level of equipment would be adequate, as well as how much is needed.

She said it’s an important effort to show the men and women that protect us everyday that we’re here for them too.

"There is only so much city budgets can cover, and so it’s up to us as citizens who rely on first responders to step to their aid when they need it," Vaughan said.