Firearms bill has fire officials asking questions - CBS46 News

Bill that would allow firefighters to carry firearms has fire officials asking questions

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CLAYTON COUNTY (CBS46) -

If some state lawmakers have their way, Metro Atlanta firefighters may soon be able to bring heat to a fire rather than just deal with it. State House Republican Kevin Cook is the author of House Bill 807, which would allow firefighters to carry firearms if their departments say it's OK. Merkison said he has serious concerns about the bill.

"Am I creating a larger safety issue by implementing something that, perhaps, they are not trained to handle? Or would it put too much on them and I am taking the focus away from patient care and putting it more on the security of the environment," said Merkison.

In the spring of 2013, some Gwinnett County firefighters and paramedics were taken hostage during a call. Some believe if the first responders had been armed, the incident may not have happened.

"I don't know if that is the case. Like I said, without knowing what they were faced with, without knowing what dangers those firefighters that were involved in that situation had to face, I don't know if that would have helped them or not. Only they know the answer to that," Merkison said.

If the bill becomes law, Merkison said the decision to allow Clayton County firefighters to carry firearms on the job will not be his alone.

"I think there would have to be some serious conversations between not only the fire chief but the police chief and those county elected officials. We have to decide if this is something that the county elected delegation wants to see in their county," Merkison said.

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