"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.|
"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.