Orlando firefighters equipped with bulletproof vests

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando firefighters will now have bulletproof vests when they respond to calls.

The need was brought up last year when city leaders addressed the need for safety after the Pulse nightclub terror attack.

The city spent $60,000 to help protect the firefighters in future incidents.

Firefighters rolled out with the vests for the first time Thursday.

Ten years, ago, Orlando Fire Chief Roderick Williams wouldn't have worried about bulletproof vests for firefighters.

But now, he feels it's essential.

“Since Columbine and all these different events, our own Gateway shooting here in 2009, we realized it's a new norm, somewhat, but our goal is to make sure our personnel is equipped to handle those new norms,” said Williams.

More than 150 bulletproof vests were loaded onto the firetrucks, one for every person who could end up responding to a violent call.

The Pulse terror attack helped prompt the safety push.

But even on a smaller scale, protocol now requires firefighters to wear the vests if they show up to a domestic violence scene, for instance, and police don't have a suspect in custody.

"We call that a warm zone. Basically, it's where the shooter may be in the building but he's not able to get a clean shot off in the direction of our personnel,” said District Chief Christopher Spurlin.

The vests have pockets filled with tools and equipment firefighters would need for a trauma patient, giving them hands-free access, while having more protection.

Since last October, firefighters have gone through 15 weeks' worth of training about the vests and the violent calls that may require them.

The Fire Department also bought helmets and other safety equipment with the $60,000 from the city.