Man with knife attacks Phoenix firefighter

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by Crystal Cruz

azfamily.com

Posted on May 13, 2013 at 6:41 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 14 at 6:07 PM

PHOENIX -- Each phone call to the Phoenix Fire Department is different and some calls are more dangerous than others.

Phoenix firefighter Bobby Priest was caught in a frightening situation recently when a patient tried to hurt him.

"He reached back with the knife.  It was coming right towards me," said Priest.

The knife was heading straight towards Priest's face.

According to officials with the Phoenix Fire Dept., the patient that almost stabbed the firefighter was mostly likely mentally ill.

"I grabbed his hand and was able to wrestle it away from him," described Priest.

Assaults on firefighters are happening more than we know about.

In April, a Georgia man held several fire fighters hostage and he was eventually killed by police. According to CNN, that man was in financial distress.

Capt. Larry Nunez of the Phoenix Fire Dept. tells 3TV just recently another mentally unstable man pulled a gun on a firefighter.

"Obviously that gun was pointed at somebody's chest and all he had to do was pull the trigger and things would've been very different," said Nunez.

Phoenix firefighters are unarmed and aren't trained in defensive tactics.

Instead crews rely on their gut feelings about a situation.

"We are seeing more of these assaults now because obviously the population is greater and we're dealing with more mental health issues out in the city," said Capt. Nunez.

As for firefighter Priest, he's been on the job a little more than a year and already has one interesting story to tell.

"I’ll probably think more differently about being more aware and what people have in their pockets," said Priest.

It’s unclear just how many assaults have happened in the past year in Phoenix as many go unreported.

Nunez said this happens because firefighters are there to help the safety of the surroundings.

3TV reached out to several fire departments around the Valley and at the time this report was completed, a spokesperson with the Mesa Fire Dept. told 3TV one of their firefighters was assaulted last month.

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