Spokane Fire Chief discusses bridge safety


(STORY IMAGE:KHQ.COM)

SPOKANE, Wash. -For the second time since April, the Spokane Fire Department had to repel to the bottom of the Monroe Street Bridge to rescue someone.

While it is unclear if the man fell or jumped Wednesday night, Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer says that it's time to have a conversation as a community.

"I believe strongly that it is a mental health issue and not just Spokane but the entire Spokane county community needs to address it," said Chief Schaeffer. 

But he's not talking about building obstacles -- such as new fencing -- or adding netting, such as the safety system currently being installed on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The reason, he says, is simple - Schaeffer says those who want to harm themselves will find a way.

"Whatever type of manipulation you put on design structure to try to prevent that from occurring if someone wants to commit suicide they will do it," said Schaeffer.

This conversation has been going on for several years. Over on the Maple Street Bridge they have a cover over the sidewalk, but people still will climb it and jump. Schaeffer offered a different kind of solution -- such as signs against suicide and a phone to call for help.

"They'll be able to call first call for help and get some assistance right away when they're in crisis," Schaeffer says.