It’s An Obama World: SC Firefighters To Wear Custom-Fitted Body Armor On ALL Emergency Calls
Guest Post by Mara Zebest
A series of high profile attacks on firefighters out of New York and Georgia are causing the firefighters in South Carolina to consider custom-fitted body armor for the firefighters to wear on all emergency calls. The body armor is considered a sign of the times and may be a trend as more first responders are targeted and attacked.
The Beaufort Gazette reports the following:
Burton’s 54 firefighters are wearing custom-fitted body armor on all emergency calls, a move spurred by recent attacks on firefighters and first responders nationwide, Chief Harry Rountree said.
Burton and several other fire departments in Beaufort County have had body armor for over a decade. Many purchased armor in 2000, after four police officers from Port Royal and Beaufort were wounded in a shooting in August 1999.
But the Burton Fire District has upgraded its vests and made them mandatory wear for all emergency calls.
Previously, the district’s vests of varying sizes were stored in emergency vehicles and only worn during calls that had a potential for violence, such as suicides and domestic violence.
The vests were cumbersome because they weren’t an exact fit, paramedic Daniel Byrne said. Holes in protection because of a loose fit and chafing in tighter areas were two common problems, he said.
Rountree said the district had planned to replace the vests when their service life expired, but high-profile attacks on firefighters in New York and Georgia accelerated that plan.
Two firefighters were killed in Webster, N.Y., in December after a man set fire to his house and a car to lure firefighters to the area, shooting them from a nearby berm. Two other firefighters were wounded, and seven homes were destroyed while police secured the scene.