Vine Grove purchasing safety vests for firefighters

JEFF D’ALESSIO/The News-Enterprise Vine Grove City Council members, from right, Garry McCoy and Donna Spangenberger, listen Monday night as Mark Gustafson of Fire Department Services and Supply makes a presentation about firefighter safety vests.

In an effort to protect volunteer firefighters from unexpected attacks while on calls, Vine Grove City Council moved forward with the purchase of 14 safety vests.

Council voted 6-0 to approve the $11,200 purchase after it was proposed by Fire Chief Steve New. The council and May­or Pam Ogden saw a demonstration of the vest by Mark Gustafson of Fire Department Services and Supply Co. of Louisville.

After Gustafson fielded a variety of questions from council members, it was approved.

“I need to protect our people as much as I can,” New said. “It’s the times we’re in. The role of a firefighter has changed.”

Gustafson said the one-size-fits-all vests are protection against a gunshot or use of a knife.

“It’s another tool to protect them,” he said.

New said firefighters often are called to unknown situations, especially when it’s car or medical related.

“We’re kind of a catch-all when they don’t know whether to call police or EMS,” he said. “Firefighters have been shot at and stabbed.”

The vests can withstand gunfire from being held directly at it, Gustafson said.

“There have been recent events where first responders have been shot at and stabbed,” New said. “You don’t always know what you’re getting into.”

Each vest costs about $800 each, Gustafson said.

LAND PURCHASE. Coun­cil also passed a motion 5-1 approving a budget amendment to purchase about 3.3 acres of land near Optimist Park. The price was $77,500. Councilman Garry McCoy voted against the purchase.

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1757 or

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