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Cincy Fire Union Wants Bulletproof Vests For All Firefighters

Jay Hanselman

The president of the Cincinnati firefighter's union is asking for $250,000 in the upcoming city budget to equip all firefighters with custom-fitted bulletproof vests.  

The city purchased some at the end of the year, but that only covered 187 firefighters. Another 660 are needed to cover all firefighters.
Local 48 President Matt Alter told Council's Law and Public Safety Committee Monday there is some protective equipment on fire trucks now.

"But the vests that are supplied on the fire apparatus are the most recently expired vests from the Cincinnati Police Department," Alter said. "They have a useful lifecycle, once they are out of their useful lifecycle those vests are then given to the fire department to use. So, we're using vests that are expired from the police department on the Cincinnati Fire Department."

Alter said candidly firefighters do not want the bulletproof vests; they'd prefer not to be shot at while doing their jobs. Council Member Christopher Smitherman supports the proposal. He calls it the new reality.

"No one probably 50 years ago would think that we would be talking about our firefighters needing bulletproof vests," Smitherman said. "But whether 50 years ago that's true or not, it's true today. And if it saves the life of one firefighter, then it was worth it."

City administrators are preparing a report on the issue and could include funding in the upcoming budget. If not, some council members say they'll add the request to the spending plan, which must to approved by the end of June.

The proposal comes after a March incident where a Northside man fired shots at firefighters who were doing a welfare check at this home. He told police he thought someone was trying to break-in.