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FIRETRUCKS, STATION SPRAYED WITH GRAFFITI

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At least one brazen vandal broke into a fire station over the weekend and sprayed graffiti while firefighters slept.

The gang-related graffiti was spray-painted on three overhead doors and on the front of Salt Lake County Fire Station #4, 4625 S. Holladay Blvd., sometime early Saturday. The vandal or vandals also entered the station and sprayed slogans on a 75-foot E-1 ladder truck as well as a Pierce Pumper engine.A deputy sheriff was pulling into the nearby sheriff's substation about 5:15 a.m. Saturday when he noticed the door at the fire station was up and then saw the graffiti.

"They're getting pretty gutsy, aren't they?" said Salt Lake County Fire Capt. Scott Collins.

"He actually signed it with his nickname!" added Salt Lake County Fire Capt. Lowell Mikolash of the vandal. A gang name was also sprawled on the building, according to a Salt Lake County sheriff's report.

"It was all total vandalism," Mikolash said.

Firefighters were later able to remove the black spray paint from the vehicles as well as the walls. Nothing was reported missing from the station.

"At first there was anger and frustration and then we thought, `We got to get this stuff off now,' " Collins said. "The paint hadn't totally cured yet. We were able to buff it out of the engines."

The station has already taken additional security measures, and Mikolash said other stations will reassess their security. Previously, fire stations have often been kept open so that people with medical emergencies can walk in during the middle of the night, such as women having babies who can't make it to a hospital.

"We at the fire department sometimes feel almost immune up to this point. We're the good guys!" Mikolash said.

"Everybody figures they're immune to this stuff, but you're not," Collins said. "When they start going into fire stations, they're going to go after anybody."

"The thing that bothers most of the guys here is we could have had our throats cut," Collins said.