Kingsport FD adds new ballistic vests, helmets for firefighters

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Kingsport firefighters will have new ballistic vests and helmets for emergencies, the fire department announced on Tuesday.

The Kingsport Fire Department (KFD) said the new gear will ensure the safety and well-being of firefighting personnel in all emergencies, including:

  • Active shooters

  • Assaults

  • Drug overdoses

  • Other situations requiring medical assistance that may become hostile

“With the rise of school shootings, and violent situations, and dangerous things, [the vests and helmets are] a vital piece of equipment that we’re glad to have, and it’ll go a long way in protecting everyone,” said KFD assistant fire chief, Terry Arnold.

The ballistic vests are designed to provide advanced protection in high-risk situations and align with guidelines set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 3000 Standard for Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) programs, the KFD said in a press release.

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  • Courtesy of the Kingsport Fire Department
    Courtesy of the Kingsport Fire Department
  • Courtesy of the Kingsport Fire Department
    Courtesy of the Kingsport Fire Department

Vests velcro in the front and have steel plates in the front and back, weighing about 26 pounds. The plates will protect the wearer from rifle shots, Arnold told News Channel 11. Arnold said the fire department now has the same vests as the ones used by the Kingsport Police Department daily.

The fire department responds to all medical calls and often responds to scenes before police and EMS.

“We find ourselves in situations a lot that unfold differently than maybe we were initially told, so this does provide a little different level of comfort for us,” said KFD senior captain, Jared Lindholm.

Each ballistic kit contains a vest, helmet and a storage bag. Thirty-two kits were purchased to equip the department and cost around $50,000, the KFD reports.

The kits were recently added to the KFD fire engines after completion of proper use training. Trauma kits are coming soon to help firefighters respond to first aid situations.

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