Hi there, my name is Mark Monson, founder of UnderGuardian. I have been a firefighter for 26 years. I have worked at my local fire department as a volunteer and am currently a Captain and Paramedic for St. Paul, Minnesota. Because cancer is the leading cause of death among firefighters, my motivation for UnderGuardian was to create a proactive way for firefighters to protect themselves from toxic particulates while on duty.
Firefighting is a dangerous profession. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently undertook two extensive studies focused on firefighter cancer. It concluded that firefighters face a 9% increase in cancer diagnoses, and a 14% increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the general population in the U.S.
We wear hoods that cover our neck and head, but we also have very absorbent areas on our body: the groin and the armpits. These are the areas that absorb the most particulates.
Our gear alone isn’t cutting it; the particulates go right through it. Firefighters are exposed to carcinogens every time they enter a fire.
This is where UnderGuardian comes in. UnderGuardian is proactive against toxic particulates, designed for firefighters. We have a pullover shirt and shorts that firefighters wear undergarments while on duty. UnderGuardian shorts and shirts are made with a fabric that blocks 98% of toxic particulates.
UnderGuardian shorts and top (will be navy blue after redesign)
UnderGuardian is manufactured in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The garments are designed to prevent gaps with elastic on the legs and a drawstring for the waist. The fabric is comfortable, breathable and blocks 98% of particulates tested up to 100 wash/dry cycles. Its only downfall is that it is a unique fabric, making it fairly expensive per yard.
This is not the beginning of our journey, and we have been learning a lot. Firefighters, fire chiefs, decision makers, and fire families are very interested and excited, but we needed to change two things through the feedback we have received. 1. UnderGuardian needs to be navy blue (instead of gray), the color of many department uniforms and 2. UnderGuardian needs to be more affordable so that it can be in the hands of every firefighter.
With your help, we will succeed in both of these. We can change the color of the shirt and shorts to navy blue. We have reduced the price point of the shirt from $249 down to $149 and the shorts from $149 to $99.
If you donate to our GoFundMe, you will help us to produce our redesigned undergarments with the desired color and at a lower price point. You will also be supporting the firefighters in your life and your community. I appreciate your support.
Mark Monson and the UnderGuardian Team
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