Wash. county firefighters equipped with ballistic vests, helmets

East Pierce County Fire and Rescue received approval to purchase 32 ballistic vests and helmets worth $75,000

By FireRescue1 Staff

BONNEY LAKE, Wash. — A fire department received approval to purchase ballistic gear for firefighters.

KING5 reported that East Pierce County Fire and Rescue Chief Bud Backer will purchase 32 sets of ballistic vests and helmets worth $75,000. The goal is to keep firefighters safe during dangerous calls, and Chief Backer said the Las Vegas shooting reinforces his plans that he began making months ago.

“I wish we never had to think about it,” Chief Backer said. “That’s where the world is right now. If we are going to send our people into an environment to treat injured people and the scene is not entirely secure yet, that kind of scenario is referred to as a warm zone. If we are going to operate in the warm zone, state law requires that we provide ballistic protection for our firefighters.”

Chief Backer wants firefighters to team up with police for a full-scale training exercise to prepare for active shooter scenes.

Washington State Council of Fire Fighters President Dennis Lawson said ballistic vests are becoming more common across the state.

"It is a good step to make sure we protect our people,” Lawson said.

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