News Releases

Volunteer Fire Departments Get New Ballistic Protective Gear

Sep 04, 2018

The Cumberland County Fire Chiefs Association has purchased ballistic protective gear as part of its active shooter response plan. All county volunteer fire departments are being issued the equipment and firefighters are receiving specialized training in the Rescue Task Force Concept, which integrates fire department and EMS with law enforcement to rapidly care for and extract injured victims in active-shooter incidents.

The Chiefs Association unveiled the gear during a press conference this morning at the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse. The association spent approximately $90,000 for the gear. Funding for the equipment came from the 1.25-cent Special Fire District Tax in the unincorporated county fire districts. The personal protective equipment includes Kevlar helmets; provides ballistic frontal chest and side protections; and comes with striker plates capable of stopping AK-47 and other assault rifle velocity weapons.

Purchasing the equipment became a priority because of increasing and fast-emerging active and hostile fire incidents, according to Freddy Johnson, the association’s president and Chief of Stoney Point Fire Department.

“Based on research from active assailant incidents, emergency responders needed to change the active shooter response model to save more lives. We must be prepared to move in and get the victims out,” said Johnson, who cited the North Carolina Active Assailant and Mass Violence Work Group White Paper for Integrated Public Safety Response to the Active Shooter/Active Assailant released in 2017.

“Starting today, Cumberland County Fire Service reached another milestone as we begin the process to equip all our volunteer fire departments with protective equipment that will allow our firefighters to enter an active shooter scene or mass-casualty incident in order to extract the injured as part of a rescue task force,” Johnson said.

The chiefs association has a Unified Active Shooter Committee comprised of representatives from county volunteer, Fayetteville, Spring Lake and Hope Mills fire departments; Fayetteville, Spring Lake and Hope Mills  police departments; Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office; County Emergency Management, Cumberland County EMS and Cumberland County Schools. All of the agencies have signed the Active Violence Incident Joint Response Plan. Following an active shooter training seminar in March, the association moved forward with purchasing the protective equipment and implementing training in the Rescue Task Force Concept for all first responders. An active shooter drill was held in August at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing increasing numbers of active shooter situations across the country. In Cumberland County, our emergency responders are preparing should the unthinkable happen here,” said Fire Commissioner Jimmy Keefe. “Today, we recognize a new chapter in public safety and the important role the fire and emergency service personnel have in our community.”

“Precious moments cost lives in those situations,” Keefe said.

In closing, Johnson said, “I want to thank the County Commissioners and management for their continued support in providing us a funding system that made the purchase of this ballistic gear possible.”