New bulletproof gear will allow firefighters to get into 'wound zones' faster

HOUSTON – Often times firefighters arrive at dangerous situations before police officers. On Tuesday morning, they received body armor that will help protect their lives and increase their chances of saving a life.

Every day, Houston firefighters put their lives on the line to protect our community. “Sometimes we are going into scenes that are not completely stabilized,” said Executive Assistant Fire Chief Richard Mann. 

Houston firefighters received Level IIIA body armor and ballistic helmets.

“Unfortunately it’s a sign of the times we live in," Mann said. "This ballistic protection will allow us to get into those scenes, those wound zones, a little quicker to afford us some protection before the scene is stabilized to get in there and stop the dying." 

The faster firefighters respond, the better their chances of saving a life. Mann said the new vests and helmets would have helped in previous active shooter situations like the drug raid on Harding Street and the Santa Fe school shooting.

“EMS and fire service, we need to access the victims quicker. A lot of the victims in those incidents were salvageable; they were people we could have saved if we got to them a little bit quicker,” said Mann. 

This new layer of protection will also enable firefighters to train alongside police officers so they can "join together as really a unified public safety response when these incidents happen,” said Mann. 

Each vest weighs about 25 pounds. The cost was split between state/local and federal taxpayer dollars.

“The risk we face now requires we have this level of protection,” said Mann, adding it will be around mid-My before firefighters begin using the vests when the situation calls for it.

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