Downey : 25 Bulletproof Vests for Firefighters to Cost $10,000

The Downey City Council has voted to spend $10,000 to buy 25 bulletproof vests for firefighters, who were surrounded by gunfire while putting out blazes in Compton and South Los Angeles during the recent riots.

Downey's 72 firefighters responded to more than 400 calls and helped put out more than 300 fires during a four-day period beginning April 30, Fire Chief Ron Irwin said. Most of the calls were from Compton and South Los Angeles.

"While they worked, there was continual gunfire around them," Fire Marshal Dennis Groat said. "It was difficult to tell what direction the bullets were going."

No Downey firemen were injured, but there were some close calls. A firefighter was hit in the helmet with a bottle that was thrown through the open window of a fire engine, Irwin said. Another vandal threw a metal pole through the windshield of a fire engine, barely missing a firefighter.

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