Medic ordered to wear bulletproof vest underneath uniform

The 40-year Chicago FD paramedic obeyed the order, but said wearing the vest underneath is too bulky and hot for EMS calls

CHICAGO — A veteran paramedic is challenging the Chicago Fire Department over how he wears his bulletproof vest.

ABC7 reported that paramedic Pat Fitzmaurice, a 40-year Chicago Fire Department veteran, wears the vest he bought with his own money over his uniform. The fire department says it’s against policy.

Fitzmaurice, a paramedic field chief, works in an area of the city where gunfire is frequent. And after a couple of close calls, he decided to buy a bulletproof vest.

"The likelihood I could catch a round is significant," Fitzmaurice said.

He was recently given a verbal order to not wear the vest on top of his uniform. Fire officials said he can wear it underneath, but not externally.

"I'm running around the streets of the West Side where people are getting shot every day. It's a joke to think I can't wear this, and it's a joke to think I have to wear it inside," Fitzmaurice said.

The fire department said that the vests are "not authorized as outerwear and the same policy would be applied to any other item," according to the report.

Fitzmaurice, who obeyed the order and put the vest underneath, said it doesn’t work because the vest is too bulky, hot and designed to be worn on the outside.

"I cannot conceive of a paramedic wearing this under his shirt and doing 25-30 runs a day carrying people up and down stairs. That's crazy," he said.

The fire department says there hasn't been a great demand from paramedics for vests, but if there is they would be open to considering their external wear. They also said that the paramedics, not the city, would pay for them.

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