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Santa Barbara County Fire Department Purchasing Body Armor, Vehicle Extrication Equipment

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department plans to purchase 100 bulletproof vests and helmets and 16 new extrication devices, better known as the “jaws of life,” that help free victims from vehicles after traffic collisions.

The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved authorizing the department’s request Tuesday, putting approximately $92,000 toward the vests and helmets and another $542,000 for extrication equipment.

According to a county staff report, the fire department will use the vests and helmets if they need to respond to active shooter incidents, which have seen an increase nationally.

County Fire will piggyback on a competitive bid conducted by the city of Los Angeles for the Los Angeles City Fire Department. The practice cuts out bidding processes and allows the county to benefit from favorable pricing for a larger government agency.

Local and state fire and medical agencies buying personal protective equipment are adhering to new policies and guidelines related to active shooter response, according to the department.

County Fire will cover the $634,000 cost of extrication equipment and body armor with 2015-16 appropriations meant to purchase two ladder trucks and related equipment.

The department is requesting funds for the ladder trucks and equipment in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Most existing extrication equipment is more than 10 years old, with the department reporting several unit failures in recent months.

The power unit with specialized tools — spreader, cutter, telescopic ram — and hoses saves critical time when freeing a patient from a motor vehicle.

County Fire officials chose Holmatro extrication equipment because it’s much lighter, easier to move and better at cutting through “new technology” metals, according to the county staff report.

New equipment will also allow the department to get extrication equipment standardized across all department engines to improve maintenance and operations.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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