Firefighter attacked by knife-wielding woman; is saved by coat

My moderately battle-scarred helmet, complete with blistered stickers from where a kitchen flashed on us.

They don’t call it “Bunker Gear” for nothing. As someone who has worn the gear, I know you develop a fondness for what you wear. It literally encases you in your own little flame and heat resistant micro-climate. I never gave much thought to my coat protecting me from a crazed, knife-wielding woman however.

From KVOA4:

 A Tucson fire captain responding to an apartment fire early Friday morning was attacked by a knife-wielding woman who tried to stab him in the chest, police said.

The firefighter’s turnout, or firefighting coat, served as body armor and kept the knife from penetrating his chest, according to a press release issued by Tucson Fire.

The firefighter wasn’t hurt and was able to get out of the apartment.

Tucson fire says the firefighters kept their distance while the woman stayed in the doorway threatening to stab them if they entered.

Firefighters were able to see inside and determine the fire was burning on top of a small stove. Officials say the woman had a dead cat on the stove and was burning it.

She was charged with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of arson in an occupied structure and one count of animal cruelty.

The clothing is made up of many layers of Nomex batting, covered in a tough, Nomex shell. In reality, it isn’t that different than quilted peasants’ armor, and it appears that in this case it functioned that way.

I know with virtual certainty that the Chief of my department would have ordered me to turn the hose on her. I would have happily obliged.


I needed a picture for this post, so I threw in my old Firefighter’s helmet. I was a member of the College Twp. Fire Department in Knox County, OH from 1995-1998.

I had to turn my bunker-gear in when I graduated Kenyon and left the Department, but I couldn’t part with my helmet. I paid to have it replaced, though the Chief never cashed the check. I like to believe that was not an oversight on his part.

That helmet protected me when a kitchen flashed on us in a training burn. My face-shield partially melted and needed to be replaced, but the stickers still show the blisters from one of the more intensely exciting moments of my life. I can’t attribute any particular scar to a specific incident where the helmet was dropped, protected a klutz like me from braining myself on a rafter, or where it deflected a beer-bottle that a drunk threw at the back of my head while I was hosing down their bonfire. But each one is there.

Toasted sticker…


  1. Sam L. says:

    Ya never know what kind of craziness comes with the fire call. Burning a dead cat on the stove? I bet that took a while to air out!
    I did this post at 10:05 EDT, and it says “about 4 hours ago”.

  2. cmeat says:

    “…the Chief of my apartment…”
    so you guys rented before kids? i think the cat may have been the chief of the “fur burger helper’s” apartment. and now that i’ve started typing, this all falls under the auspices of the dept. of redundancy dept.
    was that ohio position a volunteer one?
    they pay me to don layer upon layer of fire retarded apparel, capes and 20kv gloves. stifling and uncomfortable, it’s unbelievably effective when the green monster starts roaring. i’ve melted and charred a couple sets, some were equipment failure and some were teaching moments.

    1. I will fix it when i get hkme

  3. Chris Dumm (former editor) says:

    Screw the hose, I would have gladly deployed a fire axe on her skull. Orders or no orders. This fireman’s restraint is laudable.

  4. T4 LT says:

    Right where were his men ? , my Irons man better be swing a flathead .

    Oh and it’s called bunker gear because it used to be kept next to your bunk ….

    I hate wearing mine, 28 years on the job will do that , retire this coming May.

    1. Thanks for the background on the origin of name. I had never given it much thought.

  5. pace says:

    Well, who wouldn’t be upset at having their stovetop cat burning interrupted.

  6. Thank you for your post and your service.

  7. daddyvortex says:

    The cat specifically told her that when it died it wanted to be cremated on the stovetop.

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Firefighter attacked by knife-wielding woman; is saved by coat

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