Lubbock, TX - It's common knowledge that police officers and military members wear body armor on a daily basis. A growing trend across the country will soon have Lubbock Fire and Rescue wearing the same type of body armor.
They say it's because of an increase in violence across the country. A number of professional organizations say including body armor is a national best practice.
"The International Association of Firefighters, along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, are really kind of backing this to try and get more safety for our first responders," said Lubbock Fire Rescue Captain Kevin Ivy. "There's always that first time. We just want to prepare, and for the amount of money that it costs for these, it was minimal compared to what would happen if our personnel did get hurt."
Fire department first responders will put on the armor when they're called to a scene and when they feel the need for it. The armor weighs approximately 20 pounds, is made out of ballistic material with plates inside and protects vital organs.
Responders would be wearing the armor and the regular bunker gear in two different instances, so it won't be added weight.
Although there are many reasons why firefighters would wear protective armor, safety is a top priority for the Lubbock Fire Rescue and the City of Lubbock.
LFR says there have not been any instances where a firefighter has been physically injured in an act of violence, and the armor is just an extra precaution.
"If you see a bunch of firefighters get off an engine and they're wearing these, don't get worried," Ivy said. "Don't panic that something major is happening. It could be one of those instances where the officer had a gut feeling that there might be a weapon involved, so let's just go ahead and wear these."
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