It was all over the news in January. A specialist team of remote area firefighters from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) carried out a series of deft operations and successfully saved the prehistoric Wollemi Pines from the bushfires. 

“Wollemi National Park is the only place in the world where these trees are found in the wild and, with less than 200 left, we knew we needed to do everything we could to save them,” Environment Minister, Matt Kean said.

What you may not know is that the team who carried out this complex rescue mission had been trialling locally-made fire action bags and belts, custom made for Australian conditions by the Summit Gear sewing factory in Katoomba.  

The specialist firefighting team’s achievements while trialling the gear could be said to be a testament to the quality and usability of these products.  

Summit Gear owner Robert Inshaw is proud of his years of experience supplying firefighting bags and harnesses for the Blue Mountains NPWS and RFS.  

“Australian fire fighting conditions are often more remote than American conditions, and require helicopter drops and winching” explained Mr Inshaw.

This means that local firefighters were often asking him to modify the American products they received.  This summer, Inshaw suggested that they trial his locally-made custom gear instead.

Jake Kearney, from the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, who has ordered a Summit Gear Modular Harness to trial for specialist firefighters, commented on his custom kit. 

“Thanks for making and delivering the modular harness so quickly. The workmanship is second to none and I look forward to many years on the fire ground with it.” 

Inshaw hopes that this proof of product quality combined with the lower carbon footprint of local production will be enough to keep his custom fire products selling.

Speaking of lowering carbon footprints, Summit Gear has achieved a Gold rating with Low Carbon Living-Blue Mountains. 

Inshaw had a 52 panel, 15kW solar system installed in July 2017 for his shop and factory.  

“When you think about it, our energy usage is primarily during the day when the sun is out so it makes good environmental and economic sense”, says Inshaw of his investment.  

The panels have reduced Summit Gear’s winter bill by 50%, and his summer bill by 75%, 

He has also switched all regularly-used lighting with LED bulbs and switched to energy providers Powershop, a company that offsets emissions at no extra cost and only funds renewable energy projects. 

Inshaw would like to see his business become carbon neutral, continue to reinvest locally and discourage a disposable economy in favour of a sustainable one. “I love the fact that Summit Gear supports local families with employment opportunities, we are committed to our loyal customer base in retail and with the Emergency Services hope to harness this local support to better compete with other companies who manufacture offshore”.