February 16, 2005
A pair of bills scheduled for debate today would require independent tests of personal safety equipment before it can be sold to police or fire agencies.
The bills would apply to a range of personal equipment, including ballistic vests, fire protective clothing and helmets, remote stun guns and needle-resistant gloves.
The bills don’t require testing of firearms and also wouldn’t apply to motor vehicles, despite problems with exploding gas tanks in Ford Crown Victorias, which killed a Chandler police officer and injured several other law enforcement officers across the country.
The proposals appear likely to sail through the Legislature because of the revelation last year that material widely used in some police vests deteriorates in Arizona’s summer heat.
More than 50 House members signed on as sponsors and there is no known opposition in the Senate.
The bills were brought to the Legislature by unions representing Phoenix police and firefighters.
Jake Jacobsen, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said at a news conference Tuesday the state should demand that independent experts check out equipment that police and firefighters use every day.
House Speaker Pro Tem Bob Robson, R-Chandler, said manufacturers should prove their equipment can stand up to Arizona’s weather extremes.
It was unclear Tuesday whether equipment already being sold would be subject to the law or independent testing only would be required of new types of equipment.
Chandler fire Capt. Dan Couch said Tuesday that equipment purchased by his agency already is certified for compliance with standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.
But in some cases, fire agencies depend on a seller’s pledge of compliance and not an independent test, said Gary Morris, Rural Metro Corp.’s chief of operations for Maricopa and Pinal counties.