Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Brush jacket's back, all right!*

A hotshot named Chet strolled by.  I peered at him.  What was he wearing?

"The '90s called.  They want their brush jacket back!" I said. 

"I found a bunch of these in the sewing loft," Chet, who was too young to fight fire in the '90s, said happily.  "They're great!"

The brush jacket used to be standard issue, along with the green pants, yellow shirt, and hard hat.  Everybody wore one, often with the cold weather liner.  We didn't have nomex fleece then, or the prevalence of merino wool garments.  We couldn't wear anything synthetic because it would melt in a fire.  We had cotton hoodies, but we didn't want to get our own stuff dirty. The brush jackets weren't especially warm or water repellant, and you had to stay on the move, but we were glad to have them.
Katie is wearing a brush jacket here in 2001. Note the handy reflective trim.
I don't remember when or why people stopped wearing them.  I did too, opting to wear a thick cotton hoody under my fire shirt, or a nomex fleece jacket.  I kept my brush jacket though; it traveled along on several moves, a reminder of the national park fire crew where I wore it.

"Let's bring them back," I suggested to Chet.  He was on board.  Billy, one of my crewmembers, perked up when he heard the plan.  "I'm in!" he said, being old enough to remember wearing them.

Will we look nerdy, as if we were wearing the old "radio bra" harnesses that have also largely disappeared from the fireline? Maybe, but we'll be having fun.  Some things should stay in the past: gaucho pants, mullets, and soul patches, to name a few.  But old school brush jackets? Just maybe we will start a new trend.

*Is "Everybody" by the Backstreet Boys stuck in your head now? You're welcome.

6 comments:

  1. Sounds like fun....reviving past clothes (and fire crews)

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    1. It's funny how people just stopped wearing them. I didn't really notice when it happened.

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  2. I know I stopped wearing them whenever the nomex fleece jackets became affordable for me... that was maybe 2006 or 2007? I didn't really like them (brush coats) anyway (never did find one with sleeves long enough for me), but they were, and still are, way better than nothing! And to quote some random fire folks... Fire IS a fashion show! Ha! ;)

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    1. I think I got my first nomex fleece jacket around 2004 because the wife of one of my crewmembers sewed us some. I agree on the brush jackets, not that comfortable. But it's funny how we just accepted things. I think people are less likely to do that now. I really like that there are a lot of Merino wool options now to wear under nomex.

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  3. Dude! You can't exclude mullets from the list! Raddest hair style of all time! AHHH!

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    1. haha. Well, you and Chet can try to bring those back...good luck.

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