Push for bulletproof vests for firefighters met with budget constraints

Some say Houston firefighters now need the extra protection of bullet proof vests due to an uptick in active shooter threats.

HOUSTON - Some say Houston firefighters now need the extra protection of bullet proof vests due to an uptick in active shooter threats.

Last week's shooting spree near West U triggered the idea to equip fire department personnel with the extra layer of protection.

"We're the first ones on the scene usually, so we really need to be equipped with the equipment that makes us safe," said Alvin White with the Houston Firefighters Association.

The City of Houston confirmed to KHOU 11 News that the issue first floated by the firefighters union is now being studied. But it won't be cheap.

According to Central Police Supply, each vests costs approximately $750. For 3,000 firefighters who respond to emergencies, that totals a cost of more than $2.2 million.

Mayor Sylvester Turner says one potential pitfall is giving firefighters a false sense of security. "So, we don't want to equip, for example, any firefighter with some equipment with them assuming they're safer than they really are - and then running into danger - but all of this , all of this is being studied," said Turner.

Right now, the union isn't very optimistic about bulletproof vests given the city's current financial climate. The union believes there may be federal funds available for the purchase of the vests although it would prefer raises for the firefighters if given a choice between the two.

(© 2016 KHOU)


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