Charlotte firefighters getting bulletproof vests

Charlotte firefighters are getting bulletproof vests, ballistic helmets and face shields.

City Council approved the protection in Monday night’s meeting.

Firefighters say because they oftentimes work alongside police officers, they too should have the protective gear.

“I mean, I wouldn't correlate the two together,” said Charlotte resident Johny Pistol. “I would say police officers get shot at more than firefighters, but they are first responders, nonetheless.”

In December, 2015, they responded to the Northlake Mall for an incident. They Charlotte protests in 2016 also fueled unease.

Firefighters were first responders in 16 incidents involving weapons in 2017, and that’s why they requested the equipment.

“I think there have probably been more incidents of violence against first responders in other cities,” said Rick Deitchman. “I don't think we've had very many of those in Charlotte.”

Some question if the vests are a necessity since 372 sets of equipment will cost over half a million dollars. The gear will last 5-10 years.

Council member Braxton Winston doesn’t want the protective gear for another reason: why have taxpayers foot the bill?

“Where's the economic incentive for anything to change on the state or federal level,” he said in Monday’s City Council meeting. “So I push back on this legislation, not because I don't support my firemen, which I do. I will not accept this as the new reality and the only government action.”

Not every firefighter will get the equipment; instead, they’ll store it for when it’s a necessity.