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These Minnesota firefighters are the first in the state to be outfitted with new ballistic vests and helmets in addition to their regular gear.

Running into a building that's on fire while everyone else is running out has always made firefighting a dangerous job, right? But now one fire department here in Minnesota is going an extra step to keep their firefighters safer during some emergency calls: They're outfitting them with bullet-proof ballistic vests and helmets.

It's all part of a new program from the non-profit group, Shield 616, which just donated the protective ballistic gear to some members of the St. Paul Fire Department. According to this Firehouse.com story, the group is hoping to outfield all firefighters in the department eventually.

The push to outfit Minnesota first responders with extra protective gear came about in the riots following the death of George Floyd in May of 2020. St. Paul firefighters were responding to buildings that were set ablaze during the riots and had rocks, bottles and other objects thrown at them while they were trying to extinguish the fires.

It was then some members of the department set about setting up a fundraising effort with Shield 616, a non-profit that has helped outfit other first responders and law enforcement officers across the country. They've been soliciting donations to help get the program rolling here in Minnesota, to help keep firefighters and first responders safe during unpredictable emergency calls.

This KARE-11 story said the St. Paul Fire Department is the first in Minnesota to outfit its firefighters with the new ballistic gear, noting that 33 members were given the new gear during this first round, with organizers hoping to outfit all members of the department eventually.

The story said various businesses and individuals in St. Paul have all donated about $73,000 to the program so far, which costs about $2,200 per firefighter. If you'd like to help donate to the fund, you can get more information HERE.

Firefighters now having to wear bullet-proof vests to protect themselves when they set out on emergency calls to save lives sure is an unsettling comment on how that job-- and our society-- has changed. But, as we know, the only constant in life pretty much IS change. So keep scrolling to check out how much Rochester has changed recently as well!

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Wow! Check out how Rochester has changed throughout the years in these Google photos.

As we are soaring down Hwy 52, it is hard to imagine what life was like in our town before the Target store was built where it is today. Or the house that you live in now, at one point in town, that wasn't there. In fact, Rochester has grown so fast throughout the years, most of our houses weren't even around 50 years ago! Don't believe me? Look through these photos to get a glimpse of what Rochester was like years ago.