Portland Fire and Rescue will now be equipped with ballistic vests when responding to certain calls in response to the city's vast increase in violent crimes as a result of the "Defund the Police" movement.
Portland Fire and Rescue is ordering 200 bulletproof vests after union members expressed concerns about heightened criminal attacks in the city, KGW8 reports.
"First responders, as they go in, we can become targets. Even if you look at the totality of the city, it's definitely become a less safe place to work for their firefighters. There's no way to mince any words," said Alan Ferschweiler, president of the Portland Firefighters Association.
According to Terry Foster, the Portland Fire and Rescue public information officer, the vests are needed to withstand bullets and knife attacks. "It's something we've talked about in the past, but it's something we're moving on now," Foster said.
"I think times change and the landscape of the types of calls we go on change over time. I know when I came quite a while ago, this was not even thought about. Our chief cares about our members and she does not want, on her watch, something like that to happen," Foster added. "For us everything is about safety, so this is just another level of safety. You never know when it's going to happen."
The vests will be red in color and will say "medic," KXL reports.
Within the last few years, Oregon firefighters have been attacked while responding to calls. According to Law Enforcement Today, a man set fire to a home in Springfield in 2018 then began shooting at firefighters. In 2019 incident, a man stabbed a paramedic waiting at a red light during a carjacking.
Other Democrat-run cities in the United States have taken extra safety precautions to keep firefighters safe. The city of San Francisco ordered bullet propf vests for their department and Seattle police officers are required to protect Seattle Fire with a "rescue task force" when responding to calls within dangerous homeless encampments.