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Scranton firefighters now equipped with bulletproof vests

Scranton firefighters now equipped with bulletproof vests
Scranton firefighters now equipped with bulletproof vests
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When you think of firefighters, you probably picture hoses and ladders and breathing masks.

Well now, you can add bulletproof vests to the list.

"The sad sign of our times is that when we talk about the fire equipment that we need that we need to think about ballistic vests," said Scranton Fire chief Pat DeSarno.

Shooting, after shooting, after shooting, across America

"Our trainers tell us it’s not gonna be a matter if it’s gonna be a matter of when this happens in our community," said DeSarno.

That's why Scranton fire bought the bulletproof vests.

"It’s happened all across our country so we want all of our public safety people to be as well trained as they can be and this is just part of it," explained Scranton Mayor Wayne Evans.

28 vests were purchased through a state fire commissioner's grant, at about 600 dollars each, one for each of the four people on the firetruck.

The vests are pretty hefty at about 40 or 50 pounds each. They’re for more more than just handguns, they can stop bullets coming from assault rifles too, like an AR-15.

The fire chief tells us it an incident in 2018 that got the wheels rolling.

Alan Smith, a dangerous man police were trying to get to, was inside a home on Washburn Street setting fires and shooting at police.

Firefighters were kept away. When they were eventually cleared to approach, they were told to shield themselves with their fire engines.

"When you’re a firefighter and you’re watching a building burn down and you can’t do anything, that’s a helpless feeling," recalled DeSarno. "But it was a hot zone"

The vests won't fit over fire equipment and firefighters will still need to wait on police to clear the scene before they go in.

"It does make me feel better that we can protect our guys like this, if need be," said DeSarno. "I hope we never pull them out of the containers, to be honest with you.,"

The vests have a lifespan of five years.

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Scranton fire has also applied for a federal grant to get 35 more of the vests, as well as ballistic helmets.

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