Detroit Firefighters Union Says City Bought Wrong Body Armor

Jul 7, 2017

Union officials say ballistic vests purchased for Detroit firefighters and emergency technicians aren’t right for the job because they don’t protect against stabbings.

The Detroit Fire Fighters Association has filed two grievances with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, The Detroit News (http://detne.ws/2tlIGvn ) reported. The union argues that Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones circumvented the workers’ contract by purchasing the vests without discussing it with the union or a committee of department and union officials.

Jones said he bought the right vests. He said vests that protect against stabbings are cumbersome, and that bulletproof vests provide defense from most attacks with sharp objects.

“There is nothing that will protect you against every possible scenario, but I decided to start somewhere,” he said. “When you’re talking about stab protection, those vests add a lot of weight, and the force it would take to stab through a bulletproof vest is incredible.”

The union’s president, Mike Nevin, said the vests from Kentucky-based Galls LLC don’t protect against stabbings, which he says are the top danger for Detroit firefighters and EMTs.

“We never discussed this, and Jones made it an emergency purchase, which bypasses the bid process,” Nevin said. “He spent that money on something we don’t need. We face more danger from stabbings than shootings.”

Jones said in May that he had secured funding to outfit his employees with the protective gear. He said he submitted a budget that included a $500,000 outlay for the vests, which the City Council and Mayor Mike Duggan approved.

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Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/