Wednesday, 12 February 2020 09:58

Second to None

By Megin Potter | News

Made from rugged, waterproof, high-performance Nomex fabric, these coats and pants are super strong.

Matt Varner, a 27-year veteran firefighter with the Schuyler Hose Company, is giving decommissioned personal protective equipment a second life by repurposing it into custom-made tool bags, backpacks and more. 

“We had an abundance of leftover gear and I said, ‘Give me a chance to see what we can do with this’”, said Varner.

2nd Due Turnout Accessories was born. 

Tried and True

With his mom’s help, in June 2019, Varner began making tool bags and donating them to his fellow firefighters to use on the job. 

“I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that I would be sewing and designing,” he said. 

People were happy with the products he made
and began asking him to create more items from their old gear. 

Now Varner makes just about anything imaginable.

Whether aprons and oven mitts standing up to the heat in the kitchen or as a backpack loaded up to get through a tough school day, when it comes to everyday use, this high-tech fabric is second-to-none.

“The durability of the fabric is the best part of it,” said Varner. 

Statement-Making Styling

When it comes to creating new items, the distinctive emergency-gear style elements that make first-responders easy to recognize, like light-reflective striping, offer an array of design possibilities.

Varner’s designs cleverly incorporate features like these in everything from wallets to dog harnesses. Every bit of the original garment can be reimagined into something new: including zippers, pockets and even pant suspenders that are remade into pack straps. 

When requested, firefighters’ nameplates and numbers are given a place of honor on these pieces, as well.

“People are excited to see their gear and to be able to use it again on a regular basis as something new. It’s really cool to be able to do that,” said Varner.

Heavy-Duty Everyday

Officially launching his business in September, Varner’s work was mainly known only to others in the fire service until this winter when the 2nd Due Turnout Accessories Facebook page and shop was opened. 

Now, the public can order a variety of products online at reasonable prices, in an assortment of styles and colors. 

“This is a blue-collar product made for a blue-collar customer,” said Varner.

To find out more about what Varner is creating
or to place an order, find him on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/2ndDueTurnoutAccessories.

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