A young company shone through at Fire-Rescue International in Atlanta with its lineup of unique illuminating products for firefighting equipment.
Foxfire's photoluminescent products improve firefighter safety by turning tools, PPE and other equipment into brightly glowing sources of light in dark conditions — without using batteries or electricity.
Illuminating equipment bands can be applied to equipment like helmets and axes to both make them more visible as well as a means to brighten areas around them.
The advanced pigment needs only three minutes of direct light — of any type from sunlight to fluorescent — to produce 17 hours of afterglow.
"This isn't like the glow-in-the-dark toys you remember when you were a kid," President Zachary Green said.
"Within the first minute of use, the glow is so bright that you can read a newspaper two feet away from you."
The technology was initially developed following the first World Trade Center bombing, when the pigment was used on stairs to prevent similar incidents where people would be trapped in stairwells.
Foxfire adapted the technology for firefighter use, and all products designed for PPE are NFPA 1971 compliant, with all silicone-based products being lab tested up to 900 degrees before signs of failure.
Green, a volunteer firefighter, started the company less than a year ago when he quit his corporate job earning six figures and poured everything he had into the venture.
Aiming to improve firefighter safety with the illuminating products, he stressed three key areas that Foxfire products address when it comes to safety: visibility, accountability and disorientation.
In the past, firefighters might have to search a dark area by tapping around with equipment, but Foxfire's illuminating paint or bands can eliminate the need for an extra tool to bang around with by improving visibility.
When it comes to accountability, Foxfire can help firefighters better keep track of their tools since the equipment can produce a glow that makes it easy to locate.
"If you put your tool down to help someone with a hose line, you could have trouble finding it and it can be a life and death scenario," Green said.
Also, since one of the leading causes of firefighter deaths in fires is disorientation, Green said the products can help firefighters keep track of and locate a means of egress in dark conditions.
The equipment was put to the test in a Cincinnati fast food restaurant fire in October last year, when firefighters from the Woodlawn Fire Department were caught in a flashover.
"The helmet bands were the only way we could make sure we were heading in the right direction," said Captain Peter Hauser.
"And from an accountability standpoint, they were the only way we could see each other and make sure we were all safe."
Despite being a new company on the scene, Foxfire is thriving with a great deal of interest in products that are currently unrivaled in the fire market, Green said.
"We are the only company in the world using this technology this way," Green said. "This is the only game in town."
"Someday maybe somebody will try to produce this in China for half the price, but we are U.S.-made, U.S.-produced and firefighter-owned."
The young company has also tapped into Facebook with success to spread its message and maintain an ongoing dialogue with firefighters who have questions or feedback, gaining 5,500 "likes" for their fan page in the past three months.
Though skeptics sometimes question whether the products hold up under fire conditions or smoke, Green said he has been happy to see fans' devotion to the product on the Facebook page by giving first-hand testimony of Foxfire's performance.
Ultimately, the social media efforts have helped promote Foxfire's overall message of firefighter safety, Green said.
"We hope we can help save firefighters' lives by keeping them safer."
Foxfire is owned by Cincinatti-based MN8 Products, which develops, markets and sells revolutionary photoluminescent coatings and products that provide illumination for several hours and stay visible in complete darkness for up to 17 hours. For more information on MN8 Products, visit the company's official website.