In the wildland firefighting world, few things say “experienced” like a thoroughly soiled brush shirt.
Brand new fire-resistant brush shirts were recently handed out all firefighters in the Colorado Springs Fire Department–and they are bright yellow, usually the hallmark of a rookie, or someone who hasn’t yet been able to cover the shirt with the sweat, dirt and soot of a wildfire.
The garb for fighting a wildfire is different from what one might find on the backs of structural fire fighters. It usually involves a bright yellow fire-resistant button-down shirt, and a pair of sturdy, fire-resistant pants. The shirts and pants are lighter weight, and ideal for battling flames in extreme heat. And soiling the shirt during a wildfire can be a right of passage, firefighters say.
In October, the fire department won a grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation for pay for 325 shirts for the entire department. The fire department has had the shirts for a while, but officially unveiled the acquisition on Wednesday, said Sunny Smaldino, a fire department spokeswoman. The shirts are worth more than $19,000.
Even if the shirts are somewhat alarmingly yellow, firefighters are grateful to have them, Smaldino added.
“They would rather have them bright and shinny, rather than have to deal with what we dealt with last year,” Smaldino said, referring to the Waldo Canyon fire.