Some local fire departments have bought bulletproof vests for their firefighters

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GREENE COUNTY, Mo The question of supplying firefighters with bulletproof vests hit close to home for the Republic Fire Department, after a scare over the weekend.

Firefighters had to stand-by while police took care of a man in the road holding a rifle, before they could battle a house fire Saturday morning.

Republic Fire Chief Duane Compton never thought they would have someone with a rifle waiting for them at a house fire.

"A few weeks ago there was a firefighter shot and killed in Long Beach California, and that is what you are thinking. You know you are thinking, is this it?" said Compton.

Republic doesn't have bulletproof vests for their fire department, because the police department sends an officer to almost every fire call.

"Police do their job, we do our job, we got their back, they got our back." said Compton.

On the other side of Greene County, the Strafford Fire Protection District bought their first bulletproof vests in 2011.

And now everyone on the department has one.

"Life safety is the most important part of the fire service. Making sure our guys are safe, making sure everyone comes home." said Chief Jake Agee, with the Strafford Fire Protection District.

For fires in the city limits, there is an officer that will respond as well.

But Strafford also responds to many calls out in the county.

"Sometimes you are 20-25 minutes away from law enforcement. If you are staged on the side of the road and it is one of those incidents where they don't want you there and they see you down the street, you don't know what will happen." said Agee.

Agee says the vests aren't worn on every call, but it is a relief knowing they have them.

"It seems like public safety officials have had a target on their back. I don't know if it is just a change in times, change in society." said Agee.

Republic says they may look to get bulletproof vests in the future, and the situation this past weekend had the topic come to the front of their minds.

"You know it doesn't matter if we are at an accident scene or we are at a fire call, the last thing you want to do is get somebody hurt... I got to live with that." said Compton.

As for the incident in Republic, Jason Hawkins is now charged with resisting arrest and unlawful possession of a firearm.. accused of pointing a gun at first responders.

He did not fire the gun.

No one was hurt.