West Springfield Fire Department to begin wearing bulletproof vests

Six vests will go on the city's ambulances

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The West Springfield Fire Department now has bulletproof vests.

Bulletproof vests have long been a staple of police uniforms, but for firefighters serving alongside officers in dangerous situations, they often lack the same protections.

“The active shooter is something that keeps coming up again and again, but we do respond with police to domestics, to crisis patients,” Lieutenant Michael Dickson, of the West Springfield Fire Department, told 22News.

The West Springfield Fire Department used $6,500 from a “planning and emergency grant” to buy seven vests and helmets.

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Lieutenant Dickson said shootings and violent incidents in recent years – including a man who had pipe bombs in his truck on Riverdale Street last May – made the department all too aware of the need for more protection.

“They’re rated for all rounds of gunfire, including high capacity rounds,” Lieutenant Dickson added. “That’s the weapon that seems to be in use these days, as far as active shooters.”

West Springfield resident Joyce Muller said these first responders spend their time protecting the city’s residents, and she’s glad to see the city doing the same for them.

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“They are our angels,” Muller told 22News. “They’re called for everything. I can’t tell you how many rides in the ambulance my husband took, and I’ve had a few too. They need all the protection they can get.”

The fire department is working out protocols with the police before putting the vests into service.

Six will go on the city’s ambulances, and one in the incident commander’s vehicle.