TRENTON, NJ – Trenton’s firefighters will soon begin wearing bulletproof vests to protect themselves on the job when they double as medics.
The vests were approved as part of the fire union’s new contract.
The Trenton Emergency Medical Services have been wearing vests for years, but the firefighters have been the only first responders without them — even though they’re often the first to arrive on the scene of a medical call, union president Wayne Wolk said.
The fire department has been responding to emergency medical calls as first responders since June 2008.
“It’s a benefit for the residents, but we also need to be protected,” Wolk said. “You never know the situation you’re going into. It’s better to be safe than run into a problem so it’s an extra level of protection for our men and women when they’re going into unknown calls.”
City spokesman Michael Walker said the city has applied for funding from FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. If they do not receive the grant, the money will have to be made available in the city’s budget, Wolk said.
Under the new contract approved earlier this month by City Council, the firefighters will also receive 1.25 percent raises from Jan. 1 of this year through 2020. The agreement, however, does not include retroactive raises for 2013 and 2014.
“It was a compromise between the firefighters and the city,” Wolk said. “Everybody would like to get more, but the city at this time, that’s really all they could afford.”