74ºF

Orlando Fire Chief: Crew called to Pulse 30 minutes before shooting

OFD reflects on impact of Pulse nightclub shooting


ORLANDO, Fla. – One month after the Pulse massacre, Orlando Fire Chief Roderick Williams is reflecting how the horrific event changed his department.



"Honestly it seems like it was just yesterday at times," said Williams. "Orlando is united. Orlando is strong as a whole and it showed during this incident."

Williams said he's never witnessed a community coming together as much as he's seen in Orlando in the past month, adding that Orlando is his hometown.

"Being from Orlando, having the relationship with the Orlando Fire Department we have with the community, it speaks volumes. I've never seen a community in history galvanize, come together during a horrific event, and show so much love and support for one another," said Williams.

Williams said that the department continues to offer resources for firefighters who were impacted.

"Like anything else it's a process, it's surreal, if you will. They are so close. They heard the gunfire. They saw the people knocking on the station. They were in the middle of that," said Williams.

Williams said a fire crew was called to Pulse at about 1:30 a.m., about a half hour before the shooting. He said the crew had returned to the fire station, when they could hear the initial gunshots.

"It was just a general medical call at the club, and I think as a fire chief and a person, had it happened then, I could have possibly had some injured fire fighters, if not killed," said Williams.

He also said that dispatchers were affected, dealing with frantic calls to 911, while being tasked to calmly relay the information to crews on the scene.

"It is still ingrained with all of the individuals, the out pouring of community support. It reminds you, keeps you in remembrance of what transpired and we will not forget," said Williams.

The chief said that the bond within the department has never been more strong, yet still reflecting on what they could have done differently.

Williams said that one of his firefighters sprung into action, not only as a public servant, but as a father. The firefighter received a call from his daughter, who was inside Pulse during the shooting.

"She was hysterical, like you can imagine. He finally got her to calm down, enough to where she could tell him where she was. He got dressed, jumped in his uniform and came down to the scene," said Williams. The firefighter's daughter was not injured in the shooting.

Williams said his firefighter began to help treat the wounded, something that makes him especially proud of his staff.

"I'm proud. I think that's what it's all about. Service," said Williams.

Williams also said he's received phone calls from fire chief across the country to express their condolences for what his crews witnessed.


About the Author: