For years now the NFPA has been talking about mandating that all firefighter turnout gear also have bullet proof properties. Given the events of the past few weeks the NFPA is fast tracking this new policy.Between people set fire to their homes to ambush first responders and the riots in Ferguson firefighters are facing more and more firearm violence. There have been countless other instances of violence around firefighters in the last decade. But now the NFPA is fearing things might be worse before they get better.
The standard that is being pushed for is to outfit all turnout gear to what is called a level IIIa protection. This level of protection will stop most all handgun rounds. Turnout gear would be made with a soft panels, much like the vest cops have under their uniforms. In addition pockets for trauma plates would be incorporated so firefighter could provide level III or even IV rifle protections if they choose to by the plates.
Once the mandate is in effect all departments will have three years to get new gear that is up to standards. It is rumored there should be grant money available to aid purchasing new gear.
Officials are adamant this is not militarization of the fire service. This is only adding a layer of protection to people who suddenly now find themselves in the line of fire more and more.