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Fire Department brass to paramedics: No visible bulletproof vests

Patrick Fitzmaurice, a paramedic field chief with the Chicago Fire Department, shows his bulletproof vest Aug. 25, 2015, at his Northwest Side home. Fitzmaurice, who works on the West Side, was told by department brass that he cannot wear the vest over his uniform shirt. (Phil Velasquez / Chicago Trib

The bosses at the Chicago Fire Department have just issued a particularly stupid and dangerous order:

Chicago paramedics can't protect themselves by wearing bulletproof vests outside their uniform shirts, a policy that makes them all but unwearable.

The city has been lucky in that no paramedic has been shot in the night violence of deadly neighborhoods. But the foolish order from Deputy Fire Department Commissioner John McNicholas is final.

No vest.

Paramedics pay for their vests out of their own pockets. And still, McNicholas' order stands, the department said on Wednesday.

"So they've given me a direct order, no vest," said Patrick Fitzmaurice, a paramedic field chief who supervises 10 ambulances each night on the ultraviolent West Side, driving alone, many times first to the scene of anger and blood and guns.

"And I'm thinking, are they crazy? No vest? On the West Side? We just had a job the other night, three people pull up, in a car, all three are shot. And they have guns. The police were rolling, looking for them. And they're armed. One was already dead.

"People get crazy out there when their emotions are up, it's volatile. So if I catch a bullet, then which one of these bureaucrat bosses are going to stand up at the wake and tell my wife?"

Paramedics aren't called to attend garden parties. They're called when hell breaks loose, and the guns and knives come out..

But no vest outside the shirt.

It isn't a matter of style. It's a matter of time and efficiency. Paramedics can rush from a street shooting to a fire. Under the new policy, they would be forced to waste valuable time taking off the shirt and the vest and putting the shirt back on before donning the heavy fire coats required at a fire scene.

It is an extremely dangerous policy, not to mention astoundingly asinine public relations.

And it now falls into Mayor Rahm Emanuel's lap. He doesn't deserve this. Emanuel is a smart politician. There is no way I'd ever believe he had anything to do with this nonsense.

Continue reading story here http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/kass/ct-kass-paramedi...

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this is asinine -- methinks Dpty Commish should go on some calls for a few weeks and get a reality check

I know, right? That's exactly what I thought too! As long as his ass isn't on the line he can dictate whose lives matter? What a moron. I would hate to have to work for someone that doesn't care for my safety.

Yay! FD caves on body armor for paramedics! Mayor interceded and now Chicago FD said formal written changes to the uniform policy — allowing vests to be worn voluntarily outside the shirt — were sent to the Firefighters Union Local 2 this morning. The union has 10 days to approve the measure, but the department expects this to be fast-tracked and could be implemented as early as next week per Chicago Tribune

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