News Promo Panel News Promo Panel News Promo Panel News Promo Panel News Promo Panel News Promo Panel
Read More News »

Upstate Company Makes Firefighting Fabric

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. -- When Rhonda Hines goes to work she isn't just collecting a paycheck, she's protecting her stepson and soldiers like him.

Hines works at Inman Mills in Enoree, S.C. The company weaves yarn into fabric. From there, it's sent to another facility where a camouflage pattern is applied. Then it goes elsewhere to be cut and sewn before it's sent to the military.

The fabric becomes a different kind of uniform. It's flame-retardant.

Hines' stepson wore it during his deployment.

"He showed me some of them. He was a petroleum specialist, so he got one of the first uniforms that were made, so that when he went out in the tanker trucks, if it got blowed up, he would be protected," Hines told News4's Mike McCormick.

Hines isn't alone in having that special connection. The company's president has a nephew who wore the uniform during his time in Iraq.

"He emphasized the importance of the fact that burns are the big issue now," said Inman Mills President Norman Mills. "This uniform gives a very high level of protection for 4 or 5 seconds, and those are precious seconds in saving themselves from a burn. The uniform will self extinguish within a second of the IED going off."

According to a news release from the organization Troops Deserve The Best Protection, American soldiers deploying to combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan started getting the flame resistant combat uniforms in 2007. Congress gave the Defense Department a 5-year authority to buy them, but it expires in January 2013.

Congress is considering whether to extend the department's authority, according to the news release.

Inman Mills has been open for business in Spartanburg County for 108 years. The company has been working with the military for the last 10 to 15 years.

"It just makes me proud to know that I'm running the cloth that's saving their lives, helping send all of them back home to their parents. I'm very proud to be doing that," Hines said.