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Firefighters say Gov. Nixon put them in danger after grand jury decision

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FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) - A fire fighter union says lack of leadership put fire fighters at risk on the night of the Darren Wilson grand jury decision. They say it resulted in some businesses burning while fire fighters watched powerlessly. The International Association of Fire Fighters released a statement saying Missouri Governor Jay Nixon turned his back on fire fighters when they needed him most.

On the night of November 24th, they had the manpower to fight fires, but no protection from National Guardsmen. IAFF representative Mark Woolbright, who's also a firefighter said, "We were led to believe there would be some kind of protection and barrier around us to do the work and to do the job we were sent there to do." He added, "This job is dangerous enough without having to worry about bullets flying around you or over you."

Woolbright says they were often forced to abandon equipment and drop hose lines to avoid gunfire. He said, "It`s very disappointing, because we have ownership in the community."

IAFF released a statement saying in part, "It turned out that the Governor's words were nothing more than empty promises and pathetic political posturing of the worst kind. As a result, fire fighters were often found in unsecured and dangerous positions."

During an interview Thursday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon defended his decision to keep National Guard out of North County November 24th and also defended his decision not to call the Guard when businesses began burning. I asked, "Why not send rapid response? (Nixon) Later, as we saw the number of shots, the fires, the choice became really clear, what was first, property or life? And in that situation, without a doubt, the right choice and the right plan was to - unfortunately there was property loss and we`ll work hard to make sure that`s rebuilt - but it`s also important to know that over the last 120 days, we haven`t had a single life lost.'

Woolbright said fire fighters never heard about plans to let property burn. He added, "Many of the decisions either weren't enacted on or there was a change of plan at the very last minute and therefore it seemed to be a total blotched effort."

Previous story: Missouri Gov. Nixon explains National Guard placement: “Didn’t want to have a Kent State”

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