Chris Taylor from SafeGuard Body Armor gives his opinion to the question;
“Should Firefighters wear a level of protective clothing?”
When you speak of being in the line of fire, firefighters can’t be disregarded, not literally or figuratively. Their bravery has saved many lives and those still serving will undoubtedly put themselves in harm’s way to offer safety to others. The level of risk firefighters are exposed to when facing a potentially harmful situation can be minimised through usage of protective gear. Though typically, when a firefighter comes to mind, we associate them with fires and helping those trapped in burning buildings to find their way out, this isn’t all firefighters do. They’re often called to assist law enforcement officials and thus, can face situations that are a lot riskier than they bargained for.
Body armor is slowly but surely finding its way into fire departments and this is a move that couldn’t be any wiser. With the level of threats that they come across when on duty, the added protection will indeed work to decrease the number of both injuries and fatalities. Incidents like the one in 2012, where 2 firefighters were shot to death while responding to a fire in New York could have taken a different and less traumatic turn if they had been protected by body armor. The year 2012, was an especially sad year for firefighters in the United States where fatalities were as high as 81. Last year was also one of high fatalities, and is said to be the highest in several years with 101 deaths.
Protection against high temperatures
Nomex is useful to firefighters due to its flame resistant fibers that offer protection to firefighters dealing with high temperatures. Wearing protective gear equipped with Nomex will not only keep the firefighter safe but also enable him/her to be more effective on the job.
Proban is unique in that, rather than being a fabric, it’s a chemical that is added to fabrics to make them flame retardant. This is not only beneficial to firefighters but can be implemented into a wide variety of industries. In turn, this makes a firefighters job easier as in the case of a fire, the risk in areas treated with Proban will be lower.
In the United States, there has been an increase in fire departments offering ballistic vests to their firefighters. This added protection is one that is wholly welcomed. With the unpredictability of shootings, one can never be too safe. Even though firefighters are superheroes for many, immortality isn’t something they are able to boast.
When on duty, their job isn’t limited to fighting fires, they’re often sent to assist police officers on jobs where guns and thus, ammunition pose as a threat. In order to be as effective, efficient and protected as possible, ballistic vests are essential. Tennessee is one of those states where more and more firefighters are keen on receiving protective gear. The numerous reports made of perpetrators firing shots at fire trucks and firefighters when in transit are just one reason.
In Ohio, a fire station received an unlikely but harmful threat when an assailant opened fire on the station, shattering windows, sending bullets through the truck and putting the lives of many firefighters in danger.
The vest a firefighter should wear
For firefighters who are sent to offer assistance in a location where guns pose a threat, a level III overt vest is the ideal choice. This will provide firefighters with protection from numerous categories of ammunition, and thus, ensure that they are well protected in the case of an attack.
An overt vest, which is worn over the clothing is the perfect body armor for firefighters assisting law enforcement officials. Overt vests, are indeed heavier than covert vests which are worn underneath clothing. However, the factor of concealment is one that isn’t particularly necessary where firefighters are involved. A level III overt vest will offer a great deal of protection and one designed with pockets will offer even more security as plates can be added to further increase the level of protection.
It’s important that firefighters have their body armor fitted as this will ensure that the vest is as functional as it was intended to be.
Wearing vests at all times
One of the main reasons that an overt best is better for firefighters than a covert vest in many situations, is due to the fact that it’s easier to remove when not needed. It is true that overt vests tend to be heavier and less comfortable than covert vests, however convenience prevails in this case.
Fire departments who are in possession of body armor from highly recommended companies such as SafeGuard Armor will be able to store these on the truck, making it easy for their firefighters to get access to the gear they need without having to spend time, undressing, adding covert armor and then concealing it.