Not that this legislation was without flaws; but the consideration for hazmat personnel and personnel actively fighting fire aside, the occasional argument about the “aggrevation of wearing the vest” and that “my turnouts are sufficient” seem a little ridiculous especially since I’m familiar with my vest (which is pretty easy to don) and my own turnouts (exactly how much good the retroreflective trim is on it after the fires I have been through).
Does your turnout ensemble meet the NFPA standards? Yes, mine does. Is the ensemble serviceable? Again, yes, mine is. Am I lit up like a department store Christmas tree when working in one of the most hazardous environments we routinely face? The answer is no.
I think reason prevailed and I think the right changes were made. But the whole “incovenvience” of safety rules gets me going a little.
In regard to this issue, we have an obligation to honor the souls of our brothers who have been tragically killed in the line of duty while working traffic incidents by remembering their situation and trying to prevent future losses. We have a need to be visible in traffic. I heard someone the other day bemoaning the chevron striping my department’s (Hilton Head Island) new apparatus (see picture by Lt. Jason Walters). You know what? Who cares if it clashes with your uniform? It’s visible. It’s going to hopefully save your life.
When inconvenience and aesthetics trump safety, I have heartburn with that. Do you want to be the officer that tells a family that we lost their loved one because we wanted to be color-coordinated or because the vest was a pain to wear? It’s time we looked deep into our hearts and asked ourselves, do we want to be safer? Do we really?