According to a report from WTDN, August 4 marks the one-year anniversary of the second of two incidents which tested the Dayton (OH) Fire Department’s mettle: the Oregon District shooting that left nine people dead.
Prior to that horrific incident, the DFD had just been recovering from the the Memorial Day barrage of 15 tornadoes that barreled through the Miami Valley, resulting in days of around-the-clock search and rescue that taxed each firefighter who sifted through the rubble of destroyed communities.
Jeff Payne, the DFD’s chief for six years who retired in January 2020, said traumatic events are nothing new for first responders; they “steel” themselves to these types of things, but not four, five, and six things happening in one year.
Barely two months after the tornadoes hit, another call unlike any in the history of Dayton occurred. Payne said the DFD was prepared. He also said the DFD met the unprecedented challenges head-on, but he acknowledges the collateral price his firefighters paid on a personal level.
Payne says the DFD and the city are engaged to ensure firefighters get the health care they need. He also adds there is a silver lining to the year of tragedy: the DFD is now even better equipped for the next event, praising Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, as the two came together in the weeks following the shooting.
Payne proudly says the fire and police departments analyzed the events and identified the things they did well as well as the areas that needed improvement. Both departments are now more prepared than ever and ready if called into action, yet they hope to never put that training into practice ever again.