In a city aflame with crime, firefighters will get new protection against being singed with the violence Democrats have been unable to control.
Firefighters in Portland, Oregon, will soon have the option of wearing bulletproof vests when responding to calls, according to Oregon Live.
The decision reflects a “changing landscape” in which firefighters often brave a gauntlet of hostility when they respond to a call, Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Terry Foster said.
“First responders, as they go in, we can become targets,” said Alan Ferschweiler, president of the Portland Firefighters Association, according to KGW-TV.
The city will order 200 vests and is working out the rules governing when they are to be worn in addition to the heavy load of gear firefighters already wear, which includes their turnout gear, boots, a helmet, an air tank and other items.
Isaac McLennan, vice president of the Portland Fire Fighters’ Association, noted a 2018 case in which a man shot at first responders after allegedly setting a building on fire as a way to ambush them.
Since then, the city has changed for the worse.
Through all of 2020, there were 891 shootings with 57 homicides, which was the highest number of killings since 1994. Portland has had 62 homicides so far in 2021.
Wheeler said he is trying to get a handle on the violence, but he could not say when that might happen.
“The hard part is actually deploying the strategies and the resources to make it happen and that’s where I’m focusing my attention and my energy,” he said.
The bottom line for first responders is that the risks have risen.
“Even if you look at the totality of the city, it’s definitely become a less safe place to work for their firefighters,” Ferschweiler told KGW-TV.
“There’s no way to mince any words.”
Foster said the vests would be red and say “Medic” on them.
“For us everything is about safety, so this is just another level of safety,” he said.“You never know when it’s going to happen.”
Foster said the rules for first responders will not change.
“Until police secure the scene, we will not send members in,” he said.
Ferschweiler indicated the added protection is a sad sign of the times.
“Unfortunately,” said Ferschweiler, “It’s another tool we’ll put in the toolbox to make sure that our firefighters get home every day.”
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