Firehose Belts and Their Incredible Journey

Fire-hoses were first invented in Holland during the late 1600s. Created from hundreds of strips of leather stitched together into long tubes, these were heavy and unwieldy, but more efficient than the bucket brigades that preceded them. Leather hoses, in various forms, were used up until the 1890’s when they started being replaced with woven linen hoses. The linen weave would swell just enough when the firehose was soaked through, keeping most of the water moving forward. The linen hoses were light, but they could rot and were prone to leaking.

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Modern hoses are all composites. Most have a woven structural core or outer, with a rubber jacket or inner. They have different designs for different situations and activities. For over 100 years, the London Fire Brigade have used hose manufactured in Bentham, North Yorkshire, UK, from a facility that has been running for over 200 years. It is this hose that sustainable brand Elvis & Kresse collect to be reworked into products, with 95% of the hose collected red and just under 5% yellow in colour. This particular hose consists of a woven nylon core with a surrounding inner and outer nitrile rubber jacket, that is both waterproof and heat resistant. Its characteristic ridges that lend a design feature were originally to protect the hose when being dragged across rough or jagged surfaces, and the dimpled inner surface was to help water move through the hose much quicker.

Fire-hoses are decommissioned for one of two reasons, the first reason being life-span. Hoses have an approved health and safety life of 25 years. When they reach this age, they are taken out of service. The second reason is damage. Each fire-hose is on average 22 meters long to enable travel from their water source (either a fire truck or a fire hydrant) to the site of the fire. Certain punctures can be patched and repaired, although when it is too damaged to repair, it can no longer be used as a fire-hose.


For over a decade none of London’s fire-hose has gone to landfill and over 170 tons of material has been reclaimed. 

Material otherwise destined for landfill or incineration is saved and given new life at Elvis & Kresse’s workshop, which is powered by renewable energy. They create items from a range of materials rescued from landfill that include firehose, parachute silk, tea and coffee sacks, and shoe boxes to name a few, and their business has grown successfully from the initial launch of their iconic firehose belts, which also was their launching product.

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Fire-hoses start off as a life-saving tool of a tremendously heroic trade. We rescue them, transform them into heritage classics and then donate 50% of the profits to the Fire Fighters Charity (FFC). The hose saves us, we save the hose, and the FFC helps to save fire service personnel. We couldn’t imagine a better way to honour the fire-hoses and the firefighters.
— Elvis and Kresse
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Elvis and Kresse firehose belts are available to purchase from Uncaptive, and are one of our favourite statement accessories! Not only do they add a pop of colour and originality to your outfit, but they also have an incredible backstory, each hose and belt having its own personal history of saving lives and honouring fire service personnel. How much more original or sustainable can a belt get? We think these would be tough to beat!

Warm regards,
Ta.

Source: Elvis & Kresse

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