OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - Firefighters in Owensboro now have body armor to help keep them safe. Every department truck is now equipped with bulletproof vests.
Firefighters aren’t always fighting fires. In fact, they tell us the majority of their calls in Owensboro are medical. Which is why they say body armor could help firefighters get into an active scene faster and increase the chance of a victim surviving.
“It’s changed the game," Colter Tate, Battalion Chief for the Owensboro Fire Department said. "Besides us receiving all this ballistic protection, we’ve also expended a lot of funds and medical equipment.”
That means more medical equipment in times of desperate need, like in an active shooter situation.
“On any type of shootings or stabbings we’re going to, any acts of violence that the personnel is responding to, they’ll be wearing those," Tate said. "And then at the officer’s discretion. If the call comes out and it seems like there could be an issue, the officer might have their personnel put it on.”
OFD will be teaming up with local police to continue to train and learn when to use the vests. Fire officials say their personnel will never go into the line of fire but could be in a “warm zone” or an area where a threat is near.
“It gives some of the firefighter’s piece of mind that they have another layer of added protection," Tate said. "Because we’re going to be getting in closer to the scenes, we’re gonna be getting to that scene where there’s not really a direct threat but there’s the peripheral threat that could be there.”
For extra protection, fire officials say a set of rifle plates is also available for a situation like an active shooter.