Firefighter tried to set fire to escape - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Firefighter tried to set fire to escape

Albany-- When the SWAT team rushed in on 38-year-old Reginald Collier Friday night, flames erupted. Now investigators say Collier, a firefighter, may have poured alcohol on the floor to cause a fire so he could escape. They say the flash grenades that S.W.A.T. officers were setting off outside his door set the accelerant on fire.

Officers using a battering ram to knock down the door, and drag Collier to safety. "Obviously a very dangerous situation. Nobody got any more serious injury than Reggie did on his hands, I think it was a successful operation," said Albany Fire Chief James Carswell.

Collier fired between six and ten shots out of his apartment window. Police still don't know what triggered the standoff Friday. Psychological experts say that Public Safety workers could suffer depression more than most people, because of the stress of their jobs. Albany and Dougherty County has counseling available for all employees, and remind their emergency workers that help is there.

An Albany paramedic, John Bendford, shot and killed himself in front of the South Albany EMS Station May 6, 2003. On September 21, 2004, Albany Police Corporal Andrew Hayslip killed his young son, wounded his girlfriend, and then killed himself.

Friday Firefighter Reginald Collier started firing shots.

All are said to have had personal problems that led to their action, which psychological experts say is not uncommon for public safety workers.

Counselor Lindon Storm said, "There is a acute stimulation of adrenalin, that is a rush, that can become a very devastating process for the body over years of doing that kind of work."

Albany and Dougherty County has free, 24 hour a day, seven day a week counselors ready for all their employees, but many don't take advantage.

"Employees put it in the back of their minds, or feel that their confidentiality will be infringed upon," Human Resources Manager Johnnie Johnson said. "So unfortunately we still have these type of incidents happen."

Storm says the stress that Firefighters, Police, and Paramedics face on the job can be addictive, and can lead to problems off the job. "Stress reduction is the process of developing diversions in your lifestyle that will allow you to ventilate that stress."

Human Resources Managers say they will have Supervisors again remind city employees about the counseling available, if they are having personal problems. The Employee Assistance Program is available to all Albany and Dougherty County emergency workers, and their direct family members, free of charge.

Collier is being held at Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville and now faces more criminal charges

posted by dave.miller@walb.com

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