National News

Hampton Fire and Rescue now have extra layer of protection

Posted September 6

— Hampton Fire and Rescue strapped on new gear Tuesday.

They recently purchased black vests.

"They're technically ballistic vest and one of the big differences in that is everyone believes they are bulletproof, they're not," Battalion Chief Anthony Chittum explained to News 3. "They're called a level three and they're made to stop a certain level threat."

Chittum said they started planning to buy the armor about a year ago.

They decided to spend $650 on each one due to rising concerns nationwide about first responders safety when dispatched to 911 calls.

"We really wanna look at it as an insurance policy. We would rather have the added protection and not need it, than when all of a sudden an emergency comes up and we don't have the equipment," he said.

Fire officials said crews typically won't wear the vest if they're responding to something like a house fire.

It'll generally be a situation where things could escalate quickly, putting them in danger.

"What these are normally set for are things like unknown man down calls, shooting calls, if we have to force entry into a home for a medical emergency," the battalion chief said.

However, firefighters can use the safety gear at their own discretion.

Battalion Chief Chittum didn't want to say how many vests they purchased.

The fire department now joins other Hampton Roads cities like Norfolk who already have the added protection.

"We're still not going in blindly thinking 'oh, we have ballistic vest to protect us'. We still have specific rules and SOP's that we use," Chittum said.

This is now another step in making sure they can return to the job tomorrow to keep your family safe.

Chittum said they are the first department on the Peninsula to purchase the ballistics vests.

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