When we were deciding on what our uniforms should look like, we decided that we wanted them to be simple with a traditional fire service look. We felt that the uniform should not be too elaborate or cluttered. While we wanted to look professional, we didn’t want the uniform to draw focus away from the purpose of the Honor Guard or from the duties we are charged with.
Honor Guard team members may not deviate from the set uniform standards. The team as a whole will decide if any changes need to be made to the uniform. This ensures a neat and consistent look to the uniforms.
Each team member is issued the following items:
-Bell Cap -Dress Coat -Overcoat with zip out liner for cold weather -Two dress shirts -Tie with Velcro attachment in the back -Shoes -Belt -White Gloves -Collar Brass and Badges
Dress Shirts- Each team member is issued two white dress shirts. This is done in case we have back to back events two days in a row such as a viewing one-day and a funeral the next day. This will ensure that each team member has a clean shirt for both days. Making sure that everyone wears a white T-shirt underneath also helps to absorb any perspiration that is generated.
U.S. Flag Patch- The dress coat, over coat and dress shirts have United States Flags sown on the right shoulder. When wearing the U.S. Flag on the right shoulder of a uniform, the “Union” or star field must be facing forward or closet to the heart of the wearer. Wearing the flag in this manner also is consistent with how a flag is draped over a casket with the “Union” closet to the heart of the deceased. It also illustrates how the flag would look as it is being carried into battle or in a parade. While this makes the flag look inverted on the uniform it is the correct way of wearing the flag patch on the right shoulder of the uniform. We felt that since so much of what we do as an Honor Guard is taken from military protocol, and that our attention to detail is important, we wanted to ensure that we honor the flag correctly.
Rank Designation- We decided to have only the captain’s uniform have any indication of rank. This is accomplished by wearing a simple gold shoulder braid on the left shoulder. We felt that it was important to only acknowledge the rank of the Captain of the Honor Guard.
Unit Patch- We also decided to have a new patch made using our current Fire Company Maltese and adding a “Honor Guard” rocker over the Maltese. This patch is worn on the right should of the dress coat, overcoat and the shirt.
Badges- All badges are gold and have the words Honor Guard on them. A badge is worn on the dress coat, over coat and the shirt. Also a hat badge is worn on the front of each bell cap.
Buttons- All buttons on the dress coat and overcoat are gold and have “FD” on them.
Piping- Piping one half inch wide is sewn onto the cuffs of each dress coat and overcoat. One-inch wide piping is sewn on the outside seam of each trouser leg.
Collar Brass- Each collar has a gold “MVFC” (Midway Volunteer Fire Company) on it. The collar brass is angled upward toward the head at an angle of about fifteen degrees. A lapel pin from the most current National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend is worn on the right lapel.
Shoes- When we first established our Honor Guard, we didn’t take into consideration how long we could be standing or walking in our shoes. After the NFFF service in Washington DC in 2002 and participating in the filming of Ladder 49 we realized that our shoes were not very comfortable. We are now looking into more comfortable dress shoes with the same look. Because of the material that the shoes are made of they do not breathe well and hold in the heat from the pavement or concrete. Another option is to put in gel insoles to make them more comfortable.
Uniform Storage- We purchased plastic see through zippered uniform bags to store each uniform in. These can be purchased at Wal-Mart, Target or Kmart for under $10 each. Since the bags are see through you can easily tell if the uniform has been cleaned or if it is missing anything. Also we invested in good storage racks to hold all of the uniforms. All of our uniforms are kept at one of our stations in an office on two heavy-duty garment racks on wheels. Invest in a good metal one with a shelf either on the bottom or on the top to store shoe boxes on. Again you can get these at the above mentioned stores for between $50 and $70 each.
We have one team member that is in charge of the uniforms. He is in charge of:
-Making sure that each uniforms is being cleaned and made ready for the next time that they are needed. -Ordering any additional uniforms, collar brass and badges. -Ensuring that the company that supplies us the uniforms and the Cleaners completes alterations or repairs.
All of our uniform supplies have been purchased from MCDonald Uniforms.
13440 Damar Drive, Unit F
Philadelphia, PA 19116-1817
Fax: (215) 673-0607
Other Honor Guard Uniform suppliers that have specific information and selections for Honor Guards:
We also have set up an account and negotiated pricing with a local cleaners to do all of the uniform cleaning. The cleaners we use are familiar with uniforms since they handle the uniform cleaning for one of the local police departments.