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8 On Your Side stories spark business owner to raise money to protect firefighters


HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews may be getting ballistic protection after all, but it doesn’t look like the county is going to spend a penny to do it.

Bonnie McSharry, owner of Cross Creek Ranch, a wedding venue in Dover, is kicking off an effort to raise the money to buy vests and helmets.

Bonnie watched a series of 8 On Your Side reports about HCFR not equipping its fire-medics with ballistic protection.

“My husband and I were watching the story and as soon as it was done my husband said, you know we can buy a vest, I’ll buy one,” Bonnie McSharry said.

Our reports revealed all Pinellas County fire departments provide ballistic protection for their crews, as well as the Temple Terrace fire department and Pasco County Fire Rescue.

In a letter to fire rescue personnel as well as to commissioners, Hillsborough Deputy County Administrator Greg Horwedel labeled our reports inaccurate and irresponsible.

Bonnie contacted 8 On Your Side and said she’d already been in touch with HCFR and is kicking off a campaign to provide the equipment the county has not.

She claimed HCFR told her it was excited about her project and that ballistic protection would make a big difference.

“You know they’re the first ones in protecting us and it’s just, they’re putting their life on the line everyday,” Bonnie added.

She hopes to convince other businesses to donate and plans to meet with HCFR early next month.

“What a sweet lady,” firefighter union spokesman Travis Horn said.

According to Horn, these days ballistic vests and helmets are essential.

“If someone is harmed, if someone is hurt, if someone’ is killed God forbid, of course we’ll have vests then,” Horn stated. “But thanks to you, for trying to make this happen before that happens.”

If you know of something that needs to be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

Contact Steve Andrews at

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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