A trip to a Plant City flea market last summer changed David Burton’s life.
“We sold out and the response was so great,” he said from his sweaty, crowded garage. “It wasn’t just firemen buying them, so I knew we really had something.”
Burton pauses between words just long enough to power a nail through thick fire hose and into a wooden board underneath. The nail gun pierces the silence of his Riverview neighborhood.
After the Plant City shoppers gobbled up his first 13 fire hose flags last year, he’s spending a lot of time crafting patriotic keepsakes from that garage.
“Sometimes 12 hours a day on my day off,” the Temple Terrace firefighter said with a sly grin on his face. “Sometimes more.”
Thirteen stripes and 50 stars adorn decommissioned fire hoses that have been donated to Burton. He dyes some red and others blue. On the lucky, rare occasion, he’s able to get some old hoses donated that are already red.
“There is not a day that I drive to work that I’m not happy to be going,” he said.
Serving has always been in his blood. His father served in the Air Force. His step father served in the Navy, as well as 22-years in the police force.
Burton spent time in the Navy himself.
“We’re all very fortunate to be born here.”
That’s why he’s turning discarded hoses into something Americans would be proud to hang on their wall.
“Having served, having David being a veteran, it’s one of those things that’s a one of a time piece and you’re never going to see it again,” said John Robinson, who runs the Post 9/11 Veterans non-profit from his home. He bought a flag from Burton to display in his home office.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before. I’m not sure where he came up with the idea but I’m glad he did.”
Burton has made over 100 of the flags now and still sells them. He has had customers tell him he should up his prices but he doesn’t want to out-price firemen, the group of people he wants to be able to have them.
To buy a hose flag, you can visit Burton’s facebook page