Fla. fire, EMS departments to be equipped with body armor
Responders will receive ballistic vests and helmets tested against special threats
CENTRAL LAKE, Mich. — Central Lake Armor Express, Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-performance body armor solutions, is pleased to announce today that the Company has been awarded a contract with the Orange County Fire Rescue Department (OCFRD) in Florida to outfit Officers with its advanced Hardcore™ SU carrier and Quantum™ Level IIIA armor featuring ballistic cummerbund inserts for full wrap-around protection. Additionally, Armor Express will provide OCFRD with its high-performance BUSCH AMP-1 E Level IIIA ballistic helmet, featuring uni-size capability.
“We are very excited by this incredible opportunity with Orange County Fire Rescue and our vital partnership to ensure that their firefighting, rescue and medical emergency officers have the most reliable personal protective equipment required,” stated Rex McGrath, Armor Express’ Channel Manager for Fire/EMS. “As the largest fire and rescue agency in Central Florida, serving roughly 1,000,000 citizens and visitors and responding to more than 119,000 service calls annually, we’re honored to support OCFRD with advanced body armor solutions. We’re committed to addressing the unique needs of their first responders, who often don’t know what level of threat they’re responding to. These men and women put their lives on the line every day when there’s a crisis and they ensure our communities are safe. In turn, we stand ready to safeguard them.”
Under the terms of the contract, Orange County Fire Rescue purchased 350 ballistic armor systems and helmets respectively, along with 160 carry bags for proper equipment storage. The award is sponsored in part by the County and by a grant from the Office of the Medical Director.
“Given the extensive history of fire and EMS response to active shooter events, from 1999 at Columbine High School to the Pulse nightclub tragedy last year, and ongoing events throughout the nation and the world, Orange County Fire Rescue is ensuring our first responders are properly equipped and prepared to safely respond and render care to those impacted by violent incidents in our community,” said Chief Otto Drozd III. “All positions on field response units are now equipped with ballistic vests and helmets. Crew members are authorized to deploy the vests and helmets any time they determine there is a risk of violence or explosive threats. When crews are dispatched to a Potentially Violent Situation (PVS), our new procedures require they don the vests and helmets prior to response.”
The equipment has been issued department-wide, and it has already been put to use. First responders from Orange County Fire Rescue recently arrived on scene in ballistic equipment to a deadly workplace shooting. “With the equipment deployed on responding crews, we were prepared to provide victims with the best chance of survival,” continued Chief Drozd.
OCFRD selected Armor Express’ Hardcore™ SU carrier which accommodates soft concealable body armor, while external plate pockets give the first responder the option of adding hard armor protection at any time. It is intended for use as an external garment—worn visibly over a uniform, for example, and consists of two primary components—the BALLISTIC PANELS and the TACTICAL CARRIER or “outer shell”. The Hardcore SU has a lightweight, low profile design with fully adjustable shoulders and waist; it is designed not to hamper the movements required while rendering first aid and extraction. The Dynamic Cummerbund System allows the user to breathe and move much more efficiently. The shoulder strap geometry offers enhanced ergonomics and the liner shell material uses 3D spacer mesh for improved heat, moisture and debris dissipation. The plate pocket offers MOLLE webbing for modularity and optional attachments.
Paired with the Hardcore SU carrier, Armor Express’ Quantum™ Level IIIA ballistic package will provide OCFRD officers with the kind of robust protection leveraged by numerous federal law enforcement agencies. The armor is ideal for firefighters and EMTs in need of a light, flexible, yet sturdy solution. Viewed as a workhorse in the industry, the Quantum is capable of stopping special threats such as the 5.7 x 28 Sporting Round (both Level II and IIIA) and the 5.7 x 28 Lead Free. It is also uniquely certified to the Department of Defense’s standards for fragmentation protection.
Additionally, OCFRD personnel will benefit from the BUSCH AMP-1 E Level IIIA helmet. This ACH/MICH-shaped helmet is made of aramid fibers in a composite matrix. It features fragmentation protection and is tested to V50 > 2130 f/s (650 m/s) 17gr. Another significant feature of the BUSCH AMP-1 E helmet from Armor Express is its uni-size capability, which will enable OCFRD to address the multiple sizing needs of its broad staff in a single solution – making it an extremely affordable option.
In related news, Chief Drozd’s proposal to establish a clear, concise, operational standard to guide fire and emergency service response to active shooter events and other violent incidents was accepted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standards Council. The new Technical Committee for Cross Functional Emergency Preparedness and Response begins meeting this month. The committee will establish criteria for all components of emergency response, including ballistic equipment.
McGrath concluded, “Our work with the Orange County Fire Rescue team is a big step in Armor Express’ commitment to working more closely with the Fire & EMS markets and expanding product and service reach to agencies that are depending on personal protection more than ever before. First responders are facing increasingly dangerous environments with the rise of active shooter/mass casualty incidents. On June 12, we will be reminded of the Pulse nightclub attack and remember all those who were lost. We will also acknowledge the important lessons learned and re-affirm Armor Express’ pledge to supporting communities and the first responders who answer the calls for help. Through our continued investment in next-gen armor systems and protection technologies, we will continue to bring the peace of mind they deserve.”