Fire EMS, Firefighter Training, Legal

Selection and Use of Ballistic Protection for Fire and EMS Personnel

Issue 6 and Volume 168.

By STEVEN C. HAMILTON As fire and EMS personnel become increasingly exposed to scenes of violence, there has been a push toward these agencies acquiring body armor. Although this idea is well intentioned, emergency service leaders must understand the limitations of the different levels of protection available and the best practices in deploying such armor. Issuing body armor should be limited to departments that have a tactical task force-partnered with law enforcement-for active shooter responses or that operate in high-crime, high-risk areas where the threat of gunfire is prominent. This article discusses the types of ballistic protection that are available for purchase, the limitations of body armor, and when personnel should wear such armor. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has developed NIJ Standard-0101.06, the Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor.1 The standard, which is similar to a National Fire Protection Association standard, describes the testing procedures required for body armor…

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