Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Majestic Glow-in-the-Dark Hoods: Fun or Fearsome?

Majestic Fire Apparel’s Hoods offer a wide range of safety precautions to firefighting professionals: Their CarbonKnight filters expand when exposed to flame, which creates an oxygen-starved environment that stifles fire. The hoods feature a one-piece, flared-back design, offering a generous fit that spreads material out across the wearer’s back and over the shoulders. Its wider width and size equates to excellent air circulation and less stretching of the fabric. The recently released Glow-in-the-Dark hoods were crafted with the same positive features, but is there a potential downside to hoods that glow in the dark?

We recently received feedback from a concerned customer regarding one of the glow-in-the-dark hood’s elaborate, illuminated, skull-themed designs. According to the customer, the design may hamper a rescue attempt. He went on to detail his concern: “It’s hard enough to rescue a potentially frightened child amid the murky and smoky conditions of a fire without having a large, glowing skull coming at them through the darkness.”

“How would a frightened, hiding kid react when a skull shows up? They are hard enough to find as it is,” he said. 

James Witmer, Vice President of Sales at Witmer Public Safety Group, Inc., has a slightly different point of view. “This hood is designed to protect the firefighter the same as any other hood of its same fabric, and when the rest of the gear is properly donned, there is almost zero visibility of any of the glow ink and, therefore, unable to contribute to scaring a child.” He goes on to allow the responsibility of choosing a hood to the individual and their department. “Personal expression is important, and when allowed by the department, it comes down to an individual’s decision.”

To validate Witmer’s point and allow potential concern to be relieved, please see the series of images below that depict firefighters rescuing children while wearing TOG, how the glow-in-the-dark hood appears when worn alone, the maximum amount of the hood that can be seen under TOG, and the minimum and more likely amount of the hood that can be seen under TOG:


Images of firefighters rescuing children*




 How an illuminated Majestic Glow-in-the-Dark appears










Maximum amount of hood seen when TOG
neck strap or collar are improperly left open







Minimum amount of hood seen under TOG









Witmer doesn’t believe in restricting products to market that don’t compromise the safety of firefighters or the company’s values. Therefore, he believes in providing choices, which is why the hood is offered among many thousands of other products. 

“Firefighters in America and around the world have a strong culture and passion for the work they do and the risks they take to protect their communities,” he said. “I admire and respect that and want our customers to make choices based upon their convictions. Certainly, a glow-in-the-dark skull on a hood doesn’t strike me as the most ‘professional’ choice a firefighter can make, but it will protect the firefighter just the same, and it is up to them or their commanding officer to make the decision; it’s not for me to tell them what they should or shouldn’t buy.” 

Majestic, in response to similar criticisms about the skull-themed hoods, is in the process of updating their warning and user guide to include an “informational advisory” disclaimer geared toward any imagery that could invoke adverse reactions. The goal is to educate the user to think in a sensitive and intelligent way prior to selecting a skull-themed hood.

“We respect the command structure inherent within the fire service, and should administrative perspectives find any design to be offensive or deleterious in any way to the image that the fire department wishes to portray – both from within as well as to the public they serve – we would hope that the fire department would implement guidelines that would limit the use of such garments accordingly,” according to a prepared statement from Majestic.

Additionally, Majestic acknowledged the importance of firefighters teaching children not to fear a firefighter in full turnout gear and wearing an SCBA, and that any potentially frightening artwork or logos should not be prominently exposed, either during a training or educational exercise or during an actual rescue situation.

Now it’s your turn: what are your thoughts on the information presented here? Let us know in the comments section below.


*Images courtesy of Google Image search

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