‘Added level of protection’: Spokane Fire wants bulletproof vests for first responders

SPOKANE, Wash. — With more local first responders being attacked, the Spokane Fire Department is looking to buy bulletproof vests.

From having rocks thrown at them to shots fired in the area they’re responding to, Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer explains their job has gotten more dangerous.

“We’ve had acts of violence, actually perpetrated onto assaults onto all of the disciplines of first responders, EMS, fire department,” Chief Schaeffer said. “The volume and the nature of our jobs have changed so much we’re actually in reaction mode all the time.”

Schaeffer said it used to be rare, but now he’s getting calls weekly from EMS or firefighters saying they were hurt by someone they were trying to help.

“All of us have been in situations where there have been shots fired or a shooting, or a bomb that may or may not have been detonated,” he said.

The Spokane Police Department does provide support on active scenes, but that isn’t able to happen all the time.

“The fire department does go to situations where either weren’t accurately reported, or they’re just, they have to go based on the resource disparity and we don’t have enough people available,” said Corporal Nick Briggs with SPD.

In November, Schaeffer will bring a proposal to the Public Safety and Community Health Committee for approval to fund bulletproof vests for the department.

“This added level of protection could give us that leverage that we need just to make the job safer for the people we have on the street,” said Chief Schaeffer.

Right now, only the firefighters’ ‘Rescue Task Force’ has bulletproof vests. They’re the team that responds to the most dangerous calls, like active shooters. They responded to the Freeman High School shooting.

We’ll be tracking the proposal’s progress on 4 News Now.

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