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Peoria Fire requests body armor for EMT’s in case of local mass shooting

The Peoria Fire Department is hoping on a ‘yes’ from City Council in the form of a budget amendment to buy Fire EMT’s ballistic vests and helmets, similar to those police officers wear.

“Make no mistake about this: the ladies and gentlemen on these (fire engines) are going to put their selves in harms way to help people, period,” said Asst. Chief Tony Ardis.

After months of negotiating and debate, the amendment will be debated and voted on in Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Ardis explains the amendment isn’t because of the El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio shootings specifically, but they do reinforce the need for precautions.

“We’re getting paid to put ourselves in these positions, and that’s the way (my crew) looks at this. This is our job, doesn’t matter what the situation. It’s our job and we will do it.”

City Councilman Chuck Grayeb agrees, saying above all he wants Peoria’s first responders to be safe.

“It’s prudent that those Firefighters who would be involved in such active shooter incidents have the same type of protection as police.”

For PFD, the cost would run about $20,000 a year. An additional $25,000 would go towards more of the same equipment for Peoria Police.

Grayeb says as long as mass-shooters remain a threat, and until something is done about them on the national level, he will stand behind such a request.

“Until we bridge this gulf from insanity to sanity, we have to ensure that our personnel are protected.”

Asst. Chief Ardis says FEMA considers Peoria an at-risk target for active shooters, though hasn’t cited specific threats.

“Dixon, Illinois never thought this would happen. Or Aurora. Or Gilroy, California. The reality is – and it’s sad to say – nobody is immune to these types of situations.”

The vote for funding the armor will be held at Peoria City Hall at 6PM Tuesday night.

Mason Dowling

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