Fire agencies to receive new protective suits

By Pedro Ruz Gutierrez
Sentinel Staff Writer

November 6, 2002

Emergency workers and public-safety agencies in Central Florida will receive 744 protective suits as part of an effort to equip first responders statewide for acts of terrorism and other emergencies.

Nearly 3,000 of the protective suits will be purchased as part of a $700,000 initiative by Florida's domestic security oversight board.

The new funds will benefit about 272 smaller law-enforcement agencies around the state, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.

The protective suits will be worn by officers and firefighters protecting the perimeters around disaster areas while they wait for specialized hazardous-material teams to arrive.

Each suit costs $326 and will be obtained through the state's seven regional domestic security task forces.

Capt. Rickey Ricks, who heads the Orange County Sheriff's Office homeland security office, said selected units in larger police departments already have some suits and every officer in the state should have them within a year.

He said the suits would be distributed to cities and counties across the region, but he didn't have an agency breakdown.

In addition to the Orlando area, other regions receiving suits will be Miami, 802 suits; Tampa, 391 suits; Jacksonville, 286 suits; Fort Myers, 268 suits; Pensacola, 229 suits; and Tallahassee, 143 suits.

The $700,000 in October came on top of $1 million already appropriated by the Legislature to buy protective suits.