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Wisconsin Firefighters Issued Ballistic Vests with Rifle Plates for Gunfire Risk Calls

April 21, 2016  | 

All Madison, WI, firefighters on every shift now have bullet resistant vests assigned to them for added protection on any calls posing a higher risk for gunfire.

The new gear — totaling 90 vests, weighing 20 pounds a piece and lined with heavy ceramic plates to stop rounds from handguns to high-powered rifles — will be required for all Madison Fire Department personnel responding with police to provide medical help where bullets are or might be flying.

It’s part of the new reality of rendering aid in a society increasingly marred by mass shootings, often defined as four or more killings or attempted killings in one incident.

The vests, also known as body armor, will be optional for EMTs and paramedics on more routine medical calls, which make up the vast majority. But even those sometimes can be dicey, such as volatile domestic violence scenarios, especially involving weapons, and unexpected threats.

A volunteer firefighter in Arizona, for example, was fatally shot Jan. 22 on an emergency medical call to help a man having a seizure. The man, while coming out of the seizure, apparently mistook the firefighter for a home intruder, according to media accounts of the incident.

“It’s an added piece of protection,” Madison firefighter/EMT Austen Fuchs told the Wisconsin State Journal.

Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

Sheriffs Explorer Sgt. @ 4/21/2016 3:02 PM

They need to implement this everywhere. It'll save lives.

kevCopAz @ 4/21/2016 6:04 PM

Welcome to the big city ! In Chicago for years when a fire truck went to a call one squad would follow it or meet it there even if PD wasn't needed and another would sometimes sit in the empty fire house since burglaries were common after false fire calls were reported to 9-1-1. Sad but you "hosers" are not loved anymore by everyone, welcome to our world!

Tom Ret @ 4/21/2016 6:42 PM

There is less and less respect for authority with spillover now coming even against firemen. As kevCopAz states, welcome to our world. I don't see things getting better unless there is a drastic change in philosophy and direction by leaders in the country and especially the president.

Ok then @ 4/22/2016 6:44 AM

I can't imagine how uncomfortable wearing body armor under that bunker gear is. It is sad state of affairs when something like this is nessasary.

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