Melrose Fire Department first in Putnam County with ballistic vests

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — Some of the people who protect local families have new gear to help in an active shooter situation.

Melrose firefighter Joshua Florence told Action News Jax the department has come a long way in the six years he has been on the job.


“We were very limited with equipment,” Florence explained. “Once we got more people onboard that know about grants and knew hot to procure funding, we’ve been going up since there.”

The department’s latest purchase with money from the "Clay Electric Round Up" grant is four bullet-resistant vests.

“I won’t say that we’ll be using it on every call because I can’t see that. But, the calls where it might be difficult, it will protect us so we can help our patients more effectively,” Florence said.

Action News Jax reported in January when the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department outfitted all riding members with similar vests.

The change in safety protocol just months after fire crews were first on the scene at The Landing mass shooting.

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“Violence has gone up among first responders. It’s not a matter of where, it’s a matter of when,” Florence said.

Action News Jax reached out to local fire departments to found out how many have the ballistic gear.

Clay, Glynn and Camden said they don't have the vests.

St.Johns, St. Augustine, and Nassau have not sent a response.

Florence said they’re also ready to assist surrounding agencies.

Departments said they’re coming up with protocol for the vests.