ONLY ON 3: Chattanooga firefighters to get bullet-proof vests - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

ONLY ON 3: Chattanooga firefighters to get bullet-proof vests

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Chattanooga Police may soon not be the only city employees outfitted with ballistic, or bullet-proof, vests.

The Chattanooga Fire Department made a request this summer for 150 bullet-proof vests through the city budget.

Each vest costs $725 for a grand total of $108,750.

Firefighters will only wear the vests during incidents that present "red flags," according to the budget request.

"We're going to be developing a policy on calls that require us to wear the vests," said Chattanooga Fire Chief Lamar Flint. "Mostly they're going to be domestic events where we know there's an active shooter, or when there's been a shooting or stabbing."

There has been an increasing number of incidents nationwide where firefighters and EMS workers have been targeted by violence. And there's been a push by FEMA, the International Association of Firefighters and fire chiefs to protect firefighters.

"Most of the time firefighters are first on the scene so getting this piece of equipment in our arsenal is going to be very beneficial to us," said Flint.

Flint said first responders may always run into the unexpected.

In 1999, two firefighters were fired upon while responding to an emergency in East Ridge.

Chattanooga firefighters have never been the target of an ambush but do respond to shootings, stabbings and other threats on a daily basis. In 2011, the CFD had a close call when shots were fired while responding to a shooting incident at Club Mosaic.

In 2013, four Gwinnett County, GA. firefighters were held hostage by a man demanding to have his cable and power turned back on. That department announced this summer its soon adding body armor for firefighters to wear in violent situations.

Flint said there's no timetable for when the vests might arrive but they're currently working with several vendors to get fitted and find the best price. The typical ballistic vest has a life span of 3-5 years, he said.

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