New protective vests keep fire marshals safer

Photo by Sue Suchyta. Assistant Fire Chief Steven Densmore (left) shows one of the new firefighter protective vests to Public Safety Commissioner Jeff Bolton at the Oct. 11 Public Safety Commission meeting.

Photo by Sue Suchyta. Assistant Fire Chief Steven Densmore (left) shows one of the new firefighter protective vests to Public Safety Commissioner Jeff Bolton at the Oct. 11 Public Safety Commission meeting.

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

MELVINDALE – Fire marshals will be safer on the job with the issuance in early September of four protective vests they can wear when sent on evening inspections into potentially unsafe areas.

Fire marshals, who enforce fire codes and flammable material ordinances, also investigate fires for origin and cause.

The national media has reported recent attacks on firefighters and medics, for whom body armor can provide protection in hazardous situations. Developments in protective clothing have become more compatible to the hot environment in which fire personnel work.

Assistant Fire Chief Steven Densmore explained why fire marshals sought the vests.

“We ran into some issues with some local establishments in Dearborn,” Densmore said. “We didn’t feel that we were really safe.

“So I reached out to the best person I knew, (Police) Chief (John) Allen, to get hooked up with some type of a vest for us to wear. He immediately put me in contact and we were able to make it happen.”

He said normally fire marshals wear polyester jackets when they are standing next to police officers in personal body armor.

Body armor, also know as bullet-resistant vests, help absorb the impact and reduce or stop bullets and shrapnel from penetrating the torso.

Densmore said people can be hostile to fire marshals when they are investigating occupancy load and liquor violations. He said fire marshals can keep a vest in their car so they can wear it if they anticipate needing it.

The body armor vest is red, and identifies the wearer as fire personnel. It has pockets for a flashlight, radio, and emergency medical service gloves or leather gloves.

Densmore said Fire Chief Joseph Murray is looking into other firefighters receiving body armor vests in addition to the four marshals. Densmore said New York City and Detroit firefighters already have body armor they wear daily.

“I never thought in my time I would see firefighters wearing some sort of a protective vest, but that’s the society we are living in today,” Densmore said.

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)

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