Fire officials in western Michigan’s Kentwood want to add flak vests — a type of body armor — to equipment worn by firefighters due to concerns about attacks on first responders.The job has changed over the past five to 10 years, Deputy Fire Chief Gregg Ginebaugh told WOOD-TV for a story Saturday.
Ginebaugh said the fire department is seeking federal funds to pay for the vests. Each vest and associated gear cost about $1,300, according to WOOD-TV. Kentwood is just southeast of Grand Rapids. Dangers posed by rushing into burning houses and buildings to make rescues and collapsing walls, roofs and floors no longer are the only threats firefighters face.
On Friday, Grand Rapids police said three shots struck the city’s main firehouse. Gunshots were reported in the area earlier in the week during a confrontation involving a group of men. Officials don’t believe firefighters were targeted.
In Detroit, a man was charged Thursday with attempted murder in the box cutter-stabbing of two emergency medical technicians who were helping his injured girlfriend. And two firefighters in San Diego were stabbed in June by a bystander as they helped a drunken man on a trolley platform. The Detroit paramedics and San Diego firefighters survived the attacks.
“Now we have to change our mindset to look for any weapons that may be on the person, or somebody that is standing by,” Ginebaugh said. “We want to feel safe … versus constantly looking around to see if there’s a threat to our safety.”