Las Vegas Sun

September 17, 2014

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Body armor becomes latest protective gear for valley’s firefighters

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas and Clark County fire fighters work a two-alarm fire in an vacant building at Sirius Avenue and Procyon Street Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. The fire, which was reported around 6:20 am, gutted the building and no injuries were reported.

Along with fire, smoke and collapsing buildings, add bullets to the list of hazards Clark County firefighters are equipped to handle.

County officials announced today the Clark County Fire Department received 118 sets of ballistic protection gear for use in active-shooter situations and mass-casualty incidents.

The equipment, which includes body armor and helmets, was procured via grant money from the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Each Clark County Fire battalion will receive 15 sets of armor – enough to equip two engines, three rescue units and each battalion chief rig.

Protective equipment also will be provided to the local fire departments: Las Vegas Fire & Rescue and the Henderson, North Las Vegas, Mesquite and Boulder City fire departments.

The county expects to receive an additional 348 sets of ballistic gear in the future.

In recent years and in the wake of high-profile incidents like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the inability of firefighters to provide life-saving medical assistance in situations involving active shooters prompted national fire rescue organizations to call on officials to better train and equip firefighters. County fire officials have been overhauling policy on responding to mass-casualty incidents since 2013. In the past, the county has funded the purchase of ballistic gear for limited use by specific units.

The department hopes to have 100 percent coverage by 2015, said Clark County Fire Chief Bertral Washington.

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