The Renton Regional Fire Authority has issued a statement expressing concern for the safety of their responders after being “endangered” by gunfire and a large crowd while responding to an illegal street race in Kent on May 21.
Five people were reportedly shot and injured on the night of the incident. First responders arrived at 1:17 a.m. at the area of South 180th Street and East Valley Highway — the location near the Kent/Renton border has been a gathering area for decades for illegal street racers.
According to a statement issued by the Renton Firefighters IAFF Local 864 union about the incident, one of the responding fire engines was stopped by people multiple times with people reportedly throwing things at the fire engine and grabbing the vehicle. The union called the situation “unacceptable and unsafe,” in its statement.
The Renton firefighters union statement made on May 21 about the incident expressed deep concerns about responding to these kinds of situations stating, “This has to stop.”
“Let it be known that we will not respond to a scene that isn’t safe for us to operate in,” the union said. “The unfortunate part of that is lifesaving care has the potential to be delayed.”
In a statement issued on Facebook, the Renton Regional Fire Authority said: “These incidents are a sobering reminder of the volatile environments that our first responders can face while carrying out their duty to serve and protect our community.”
In the May 22 Renton RFA Facebook post, Fire Chief Steve Heitman said: “It is deeply concerning to witness such events in our community. While our team has trained and prepared for all types of incidents, these situations are unprecedented, and it remains profoundly troubling each time our personnel are put in harm’s way. Our mission is to keep our community safe, and that includes our first responders. These violent incidents are unacceptable.”
Heitman assured the community that the department would continue to work with partner agencies and police departments to refine training and policies so responders will be better equipped and safer in those kinds of situations.