W.Va. city aims to buy body armor for firefighters

The department is pursuing a $3K grant that would buy 15 vests

By Greg Jordan
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON, W.Va. — Members of the Princeton City Council voted unanimously Monday to apply for grant that would provide ballistic vests not for police officers, but for the city’s firefighters.

Council member James V. Hill said equipping the fire department with ballistic vests represents forward thinking. There have been instances in other parts of the country when firefighters have suddenly faced gunfire.

“All over our country, firemen are being shot at,” Hill said. “We’re looking forward to protect our guys.”

The city council passed a resolution to submit a U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development Community Facilities Grant application to seek funding for the fire department to buy protective equipment. The grant would be for a little more than $3,062.

Chief Chad Bailey of the Princeton Fire Department said after Monday’s meeting that the goal is to purchase 15 vests.

“Each of our career firefighters would have one and there would be a couple for our volunteers,” Bailey said. “As time goes by, we could have more.”

In other parts of the country, several firefighters have been taken hostage or shot at, so having the vests would be a way to be proactive. Firefighters would not wear ballistic vests while extinguishing a fire, but they could provide extra protection in cases when they are dispatched to a medical call where an active shooter might be present.

In other business, Stacey Hicks, CEO of the Princeton Rescue Squad, was presented a community appreciation award to recognize his service to the community.

“The council felt there could not be enough recognition,” Mayor Tim Ealy said. Hicks has “greatly expanded” the Princeton Rescue Squad, but he had also worked with the local Little League, organize the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration, and performed other services.

“He’s done a lot for this city that people don’t know about,” Ealy stated.

“When Tim asked me to come, I wondered why. All my taxes are paid,” Hicks said with a smile. “I just feel we ought to make Princeton a better place than we found it, and when I leave this world I hope to leave it better than I found it.”

New signs have been set up on Morrison Drive and Courthouse Road to help visitors find Princeton City Park, Council member Jacqueline Rucker said. Hill said the city had received several complaints about Pokemon Go players parking their vehicles in the park’s grass and blocking the road. Chief Bailey said the players, who seek out computer image Pokemon at the park, are polite when asked not to park in the grass.

Copyright 2016 the Bluefield Daily Telegraph 

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