Firefighters in California city are equipped with firehose, guns and bulletproof vests

California city firefighters armed with guns, vest

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Most firefighters respond alongside police to emergency situations. Unlike police, firefighters do not have weapons or a bulletproof vest.

But that has not been the case in California City for several years.
In California City, each shift in the fire department is armed with a gun and a bulletproof vest.

It's primarily for arson investigations and if needed, backup for police.

"If a situation arose to where they were in danger and something happened and we were on scene in that situation, then yes we could assist them for their protection," said California City Fire Department Captain Jack Walters.

"In a community like ours, we support it. Because we are so remote, it could take another allied law enforcement agency anywhere from 20-30 minutes to arrive at a critical scene here in California city," said California City Police Chief Eric Hurtado.

And if fire crews happen to be on scene alongside officers, "it's nice to have them there," said Hurtado.

An example of that was several years ago when thieves robbed the Mojave Desert Bank.

"We only had a handful of officers on duty at the time," said Hurtado.
While those officers were busy chasing the robbers, there were reports of several victims inside the bank, possibly injured.

"Fortunately one of the firefighter paramedics was also an arson investigator. He came to the scene, put on his vest and arson duty weapon and he and I went inside the bank and checked on the victims," said Hurtado.

Incidents like that may be more common compared to Mondays' shooting in New York where a man ambushed firefighters, killing two.

Nonetheless, these firefighters feel better knowing they have protection.

"It's nice to have it in case we encounter something that arises," said Walters.

However, crews do not carry firearms to every call.

Only ones that warrant the need.

23 ABC asked Hurtado if arming firefighters is something other cities should consider.

"I think it is a good idea," said Hurtado.


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