Timeline. Lion Gear

Diane Cotter
10 min readNov 12, 2023


… first, a little history :

August 1999 ~ AN AMERICAN SWEATSHOP … by Mark Boal for Mother Jones Magazine

Besides the low pay, the job gave her back pain from hunching over old sewing machines held together with spare parts and electrical tape. Fumes from formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen used to keep fabric stiff, would cling to her clothes, make her short of breath, give her headaches, and cause rashes on her arms…

In 1997, Arleenna Lawson, a worker at Lion’s plant in West Liberty, about a half-hour drive from Beattyville, began waking up with small bumps on her face. At first she thought it was nothing, but in two weeks the bumps grew into large lumps. When she showed a manager at work, she was told not to worry about it. An allergist later determined she was suffering a reaction to the formaldehyde in the permanent-press fabrics she sewed at work, and recommended that Lawson be given an assignment away from the offending chemical. “But they just moved me to another line for a few days, and then I was back doing collars,” she remembers.

Lion responds…

Mother Jones is not willing to retract the story, which we believe is essentially accurate. However, we invited Lion to share its views with our readers. The company declined. Nonetheless, we believe that our readers deserve to hear the company’s perspective and our response. Lion sent a number of letters and memos to Mother Jones regarding its concerns, making it difficult to summarize them. We’ve done our best to try to present what we understand to be Lion’s major allegations:

You can read Lion’s 22-point response to the story here.

January 2007 … Fran Speilman ~ Chicago Sun Times

Two incidents last week — one at a warehouse fire, the other during fire academy training — have raised renewed questions about the safety of $10 million worth of protective clothing purchased for Chicago firefighters.

Both firefighters burned a hole in the pants of their “bunker gear” while using a high-powered saw to cut through a metal fence. Sparks flew and a piece of red-hot metal hit the pant leg and damaged the outer shell. The thermal barrier and inner lining of the pants was not penetrated.

Stephen A. Schwartz, President of Lion Gear responded.. in a letter. Lion had the gear tested by… DuPont, and there were no problems..

Reminds me of this 2014 study of the ‘soils identified on used turnout gear’, that went to the DuPont Labs.. where there was no PFAS mentioned… but the usual names were thanked by the student for their help in the thesis

.. one wonders how often this happens:

June 2014 _ NY Daily News by Ginger Adams Otis

Deputy Chief Nicholas Del Re was fined $7,000 for violating conflict-of-interest rules after he raked in the perks from firefighter uniform maker Lion Apparel, city documents show. Del Re, 50, was courted by the company after he recommended that the FDNY buy a Lion-manufactured MT94 protective suit in 2008, documents show.

The FDNY bought 113 of the $1,575 suits in September 2009, 604 in May 2010 and 25 in December 2011.

from a reddit user:

We just ordered all new Lion gear and the salesman we dealt with told us repeatedly that FDNY was now using it. It was his driving sales pitch…

The EWG Firefighter PFAS Timeline:

2017 ~ Then this happened..

The Real Cancer In Your Gear, Station Pride, by Diane Cotter with editor Jon Marr.

and 9 days later ….

April 6, 2017 “Ammo Please”… by David Steinman of Healthy Living Magazine

The internal emails here

April 26th., Lion begins the ‘Not in our House’ cancer campaign twenty days after the internal emails were sent! Quite contradictory to the internal emails 20 days prior imo.

“LION, stands behind cancer awareness, because it aligns with LION’s mission to fulfill the personal safety of first responders.

We’ve already begun partnerships with industry organizations such as the: National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Firefighter Cancer Support Network, and the National Volunteer Fire Council. As founding partner of Not in Our House, we welcome other industry organizations to partner with the campaign,” Mark Smith, Senior Vice President, LION.

But we’re just getting started.. and this legend in the clip below is gonna tune shit up… it would take a little time, of which Mrs. Cotter was quite impatient, but, it would be one of the most, if not the most, righteous events of this odyssey. Stand by.

Then, in September 2017 this Hero shows up:

DuPont’s Worst Nightmare ~ The New York Times, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

On September 5th 2017, not even having come up for air from his war in Ohio, Attorney Rob Bilott, along with Fire Chief Jeff Hermes, and C8 Science Council Dr. Brooks took on this mess with a 195 page letter to the EPA, CDC, ATSDR, and the US Attorney General.. stating he will sue them if they don’t start PFAS TESTING AND MEDICAL MONITORING for the fire service. Because, well um, our institutions weren’t.

November 16, 2017 ~ The Columbus Dispatch, by Earl Rinehart

Lion let it be known what they thought of Rob Bilott seeking medical monitoring and health studies related to PFAS in turnout gear. Still peculiar, in my opinion, for the newly launched ‘not in our house’ anti-cancer Lion Gear campaign .

“Trace amounts,” Bilott responded. “You’re talking about a carcinogen. No one has defined what is a safe level of carcinogen.”

The battles and war would rage on until April 2019 at FDIC 2019 where Dr. Graham Peaslee would present the preliminary results of the most remarkable firefighter turnout gear study ever undertaken. Orchestrated by a firewife and her growing army.

October 2019, NBC Sports aired our commercial to 4 million viewers ~ University of Notre Dame would air ‘Fighting to protect the brave” from their series, ‘What Would You Fight For?’ during their halftime home game☘️🔥‼️

Andy and company didn’t like that, and would put pen to paper and send a letter to the President of Notre Dame, expressing discontent at the university for airing the segment. The university would stand behind their nuclear physicist.

January 2020 - IAFF Fights Back was brought to you by Harold Schaitberger, Lion Gear and the epic volleyball/tennisball


Our PPE Specialist, Jeff Knobbe and member of our Last Call Fdn / Notre Dame study team, asked to view the Exponent study. One could not view it, one had to call Lion Gear to make arrangements. Lion Gear and the gang flew from Dayton, Ohio to Jeff’s lab in Alameda County, Cali. While there Jeff, would debate with the Lion team on the PFAS hazards in the gear. During the meeting a third party would call in. Dr. Paul Chrostowski. Dr Chrostowski would attempt to persuade Jeff that the newer, short-chain PFAS was ‘too big to go through the skin’… ‘it was like a volleyball or tennis-ball’.

Jeff was not persuaded. During the IAFF conference, you’ll hear the same language. While watching remotely, I received a call from Jeff, and he exclaimed, “did you just hear that!!” — “The volleyballs and tennis-balls!” That’s what Chrostowski said to me!!”

April 2020

Lion Gear would ask to visit Dr. Peaslee at his lab in Notre Dame to speak further on this previously unknown threat. Dr. Peaslee would accommodate the Lion team in his laboratory where he and his team built the St. Andre Particle Accelerator. While there, the Lion team would suggest to Dr. Peaslee that not all PFAS were harmful, and ‘short-chain’ PFAS were less harmful. To which Dr. Peaslee would not concede.

That visit was followed up three weeks later with the publication and wide spread circulation of Lion Gear’s newly minted Exponent Study. The study wasn’t shocking — anyone could easily what Exponent was.

The shocker was that the IAFF had reviewed the science and made the following statement, despite the warnings that I had provided to the H&S team.


View Lion Gear’s and Dr. Chrostowski Fireside Chat here:

June 2020. I would receive a warning from that hero, Bobby Halton. . He had been asked to attend a meeting by a ‘PPE salesrep’ who was going to a meeting at Schaitberger’s IAFF headquarters to discuss how to ‘mess with Diane Cotter’. It would be another two years before Bobby told me who it was. He either let it slipped or dropped it intentionally knowing I’d blow it up.

Still June 2020, who can the attempt to smear Dr. Peaslee by Chrostkowski:

Chrostowski: Can’t connect the jab.

Peaslee: Lands Haymaker:


July, 2022: Fire Engineering Humpday Hangout:

Pj Norwood, Frank Ricci, and Bobby Halton interview Dr. Peaslee and Elijah Yetter-Bowman; producer/director of, ‘Burned~Protecting the Protectors’. At approximately 28 mm Editor in Chief Bobby Halton announces “ not only was she alone, she was vilified and persecuted, and there were organized attacks against her — I know for a fact — because I was cajoled to join and said no that’s not for me “…..

I’m looking forward to our day in court when we learn who knew what and when they knew it. And what was done to keep it from you.

p.s. Is that ‘Not In Our House’ campaign still running?

June, 2024… and we’re still at it !!

IF YOU THOUGHT IT COULDNT GET ANY MORE LUDICRIOUS … National Fallen Firefighter Foundation appointed Steven Schwartz to a four member industry team (their words I swear!) called

‘INNOVATIVE REVENUE WORK GROUP’ … I couldn’t find anything relative to this working group with NFFF records (nothing on its website or with a quick Google search) so I used a quick tax records search for NFFF and saw interesting but obscure details under ‘non-cash contributions’

d.c. 6/13/2024



Diane Cotter

A very private individual who fell into a very public rabbit hole of epic proportions. I call it the #greatestdeceptionever - really, EVER.