Some St. Louis firefighters are now wearing bullet proof vests

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Firefighters are adding an extra layer of protection to their gear. Bullet proof vests are becoming the norm are fire stations.

As first responders, firefighters never really know what they are walking in to. They respond to calls that involve more than just flames.

An Arkansas firefighter was shot and killed Friday morning while responding to a seizure call. He was shot by the homeowner who told investigators someone who wasn't wearing a uniform entered his home and didn't identify himself.

In 2008 Maplewood firefighter Ryan Hummert was shot and killed getting off of the fire truck while responding to a car fire call.

Richmond Heights Battalion Chief Brian Wideman says they first started wearing bullet proof vests that were hand me downs from the police department.

"We are becoming accustomed to an age where you have to be concerned about safety and your men's safety." said Chief Brian Wideman.

Now they have their own set of up to date vests. Firefighters wear the vests underneath all of their other gear.

Wideman says they are pretty light and flexible and they can do anything they need to do with them on. They don`t wear them out on every call.

"Any time there is a call that comes in that we are concerned about whether it is a patient who has a mental issue, or a large scale disturbance. If we get on scene and anything raises our suspicion we are going to have the guys put them on just to be safe." said Chief Brian Wideman.

Wideman says the trend for fire departments around the county is to have these vests available. He calls them an added piece of mind.

Most fire departments in St. Louis have these vests. Brentwood was the latest department to approve money in their city`s budget for the gear.

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