NORTH HAVEN — After months of raising funds from local businesses and facing delays with back orders, the North Haven fire department has finally received their ballistic gear.
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, local firefighters had the opportunity to train in their brand new vests and helmets at Del’oro Plaza on Washington Avenue. Firefighters, in teams of two, suited up and practiced rescue task force concepts that simulated rescuing victims of an active shooter.
The RTF concept was developed by the Arlington County fire department in Virginia as a way to provide emergency medical services to victims of an active shooter in the fastest way possible.
“I’m sure everyone in this department would go in with our without the vests,” said Fire Commissioner Peter Criscuolo.
According to Deputy Fire Chief-Operations, Scott Martus, the gear will remain in the department’s vehicles in the event that firefighters need to use it.
Martus also said he was working with North Haven police so that both departments could train together with the gear in a simulated active shooter scenario.
“We need to have some level of joint training,” he said. “Ultimately, we are the experts at stopping people from bleeding and hopefully dying but they are the experts at keeping us safe in that instance.”
Criscuolo, who was the one to reach out to local donors for money for the gear, described seeing the gear in action as an “adrenaline rush.”
“These are the guys who put their lives on the line every second of every day,” he said. “Now they’re protected. Bullets do not distinguish people, they hit everybody.”
The vests are made out of a combination of ballistic plating and soft armor that adds almost 20 lbs of extra weight to the firefighters. Criscuolo estimates that the weight of the vests and the firefighters typical gear weighs in at a total of 80 lbs.
“This is all due to corporate support that believes in the town and believes in the fire department,” Criscuolo said.
Fire Chief Paul Januszewski said he feels “more prepared now than we were yesterday.”
“It’s not that we’re talking about a more dangerous environment necessarily or more violent calls taking place, it’s that the roles and expectations that we’re expected to follow when we arrive on scene, that’s whats changed,” he said.