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Brownsburg firefighters get bulletproof vests, helmets in 'proactive' move

The fire department said it is trying to prepare its firefighters for a changing world.

BROWNSBURG, Ind. — When Ryan Miller decided to become a firefighter 25 years ago, he never thought it would involve wearing a vest and helmet to protect him from bullets, in addition to the gear to protect him from fire. 

“This the last thing we would have thought of, but here we are," said Miller, now a battalion chief for Brownsburg Fire Territory. "The world has changed and again, we try to be prepared."

The department purchased bulletproof vests and gear for firefighters and paramedics over the summer. Miller calls the move a proactive measure.

“We haven’t had any specific issues here in Brownsburg, but if you follow some of the different news headlines around the country, there have been other incidents around the country where firefighters, EMS and paramedics have been targeted,” he said. 

That’s why there’s now a set of ballistic gear for every firefighter or paramedic in the department who gets on a firetruck or ambulance to go on a run. 

“On any given day, we don’t know what we’re going to respond to,” said Miller. 

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If that scene turns out to be one where bullets could be flying, the department wants employees to have extra protection. 

“The last thing we want to do is get on scene and become part of the problem. So we don’t want to go there and get ourselves into a situation which is actually going to make it worse,” Miller explained, adding that Brownsburg is the first of the full-time fire departments in Hendricks County to get such gear. 

When other Hendricks County fire departments have the same protection, they’ll all train together with law enforcement to prepare for how to respond to an active shooter, where they have to treat victims on scene. 

“The goal is to try and get medical care to the victims of these hostile events faster, giving them a better chance of survivability,” said Miller. 

All while giving firefighters and paramedics a chance to survive themselves.

“We try to be prepared for everything, and this is just another piece of that,” said Miller. 

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