A Guide to Bulletproof Vests for Door Supervisors
Written by Chris Taylor, Communications Director of Bullet Proof Vest Manufacturer, SafeGuard.
At certain venues, on the busiest nights of the week, door supervisors are exposed to various levels of abuse and aggression – if they refuse entry to a particular individual or group, they may be greeted with a torrent of insults and threats, simply for doing their job. As their role is to keep customers, staff, and the venue as safe as possible at particularly busy times, their work is dangerous at times: if they’re confronted by a person or persons already inebriated, with their adrenaline pumping, trouble can easily ensue, no matter how skilled the doorman is at defusing volatile situations.
Incidents of doormen being attacked are fairly uncommon, but can still, of course, have devastating consequences – even if injuries are only minor, he or she may find themselves unable to return to their job through fear and anxiety of another attack happening again. On the physical side, attacks can lead to scars, permanent injuries, and even death.
When we think of door supervisors being attacked, we tend to think of a physical, bare-fisted assault, or perhaps one made with a blade – yet guns are frighteningly easy to get hold of today, and doormen have been killed or seriously wounded by these in recent years. In June 2014, a Dublin man opened fire in a pub, before shooting a doorman on his way out of the premises; the doorman was hit in the shoulder, and his life was under no threat. In 2006, a doorman was shot after asking a man to take his hood down before he entered a pub – he survived, but sustained a serious neck injury.
To stay as safe as possible while at work, door supervisors should wear body armour. Ballistic armour, otherwise known as bulletproof vests, can be worn discreetly underneath your required clothing, without affecting your professional image or implying to guests that the venue is dangerous enough to demand such protection. If you’re new to the security industry, you may be curious about the different types of ballistic armour available on the market today, and the benefits they provide. Read on for a walk through the basics.
Which Bulletproof Vest is Right for You?
Ballistic vests are tested and rated by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) here in the UK, though ratings may also be applied by the U.S.A.’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ). After being tested, each vest will be assigned a specific level based on the amount of protection it offers against certain types of ammunition travelling at specific velocities. These levels vary across soft and hard armours, covering the most common handgun rounds through to high-velocity, heavy-duty bullets. Most suppliers based in the UK use NIJ ratings to label their vests.
Armours rated at level I are designed to stop .22 calibre bullets, as well as 380 ACP Full Metal Jacketed Round Nose (FMJ RN) ammunition, hitting at around 312 m/s. Level IIA vests defend against 9mm rounds with a lower velocity of 332 m/s, s well as .40 S&W bullets. Level II vests will stop 9mm bullets with a higher velocity, as well as those in the .357 Magnum range. IIIA is the highest level in the soft armour category, able to resist .44 Magnum and 9mm sub-machine gun bullets. All of these feature multiple layers of Kevlar in a tight weave to absorb the energy of a bullet as soon as it impacts, before distributing it throughout the vest, flattening the bullet in the process; this may stop penetration, but can lead to severe bruising and swelling.
In the hard armour category, level III vests are designed to defend against rifle fire, resisting bullets of the 223 Remington, 12 gauge, and 30 Carbine FMJ ranges. Level IV vests incorporate tough plates – ceramics or steel – alongside multiple layers of Kevlar, to defend against armour-piercing bullets. Obviously, these hard armours are thicker and bulkier than those in the softer levels, and cannot be worn comfortably underneath other layers – these are highly unlikely to be needed in most door-supervision situations, and softer armours should be more than suitable. Ballistic armour is available in covert styles, designed to be worn underneath clothing with a thinner, lightweight design and breathable materials, which may prove ideal if you need to maintain a smart appearance.
How Important is the Right Fit?
Ballistic armour must be the ideal fit for your size and shape to provide the maximum amount of protection. They should sit comfortably against your torso, without feeling too large or too small. Why? A vest that’s too big may move around as you go about your duties, pushing up into your throat or dropping away from your chest, while a vest that’s too small may leave you feeling restricted. This is obviously a massive problem when you need to restrain people or defend yourself against physical attack. Before you order your vest (or before your employer orders on your behalf), be sure to measure your height and chest (with a friend, to check for accuracy), and compare these against your supplier’s size chart.