The promoter of a mixed martial arts event says any criticism of on duty firefighters who attended would be a low blow. Ryan Stoddard of Victory Fighting Championships said he didn’t see anything wrong with the on duty Omaha fire crew stopping by to watch a fellow firefighter compete.
Fact Finders revealed photos of an Omaha fire truck parked outside Ralston arena which is outside the city. Stoddard said since the four on duty fire firefighters assigned to the truck had radios and were within a block or so of their territory he didn’t see an issue. Stoddard said the presence of the on duty fire crew helped fans feel safer.
Stoddard said about 150 police officers and 100 firefighters attended from various agencies though he doesn’t know if any were on duty.
The Omaha firefighter competing in the event Jason Brilz won his match.
Battalion Chief Tim McCaw told Fact Finders, "The manager I believe offered them some seats to watch the fight and they were still in service, they still had their radios with them. It's no different than if we go to a block party and the event organizers offer a hot dog or coke. "
McCaw said event organizers want firefighters to be visible. The on duty firefighters attended the fights for about an hour and a half. Two off duty firefighters are were invited to be part of the honor guard prior to the event.
Ralston Arena is located just across 72nd street which is the western boundary for Truck 31, based at 25th and L. McCaw said if they had been needed, the crew could have still responded to the east side of its coverage area, the Missouri river, which is just under six miles from the Ralston Arena. McCaw said, "Absolutely we can still be within five minutes of 90 percent of our response territory."
McCaw said Omaha Fire crossed into Ralston 14 times last year to assist in fires and rescue calls. OFD also has manpower and equipment at other events outside the city, including Heroes Day events in Sarpy County at Werner park and Boat races in Carter Lake, Iowa.