Eau de Firefighter: ‘First Response-Boston’ Seen as ‘Insensitive’

By Geetika Rudra

May 29, 2013 4:11pm

ht first response fragrance tk 130529 wblog Eau de Firefighter: First Response Boston Seen as Insensitive

A New York perfume manufacturer has come under scrutiny for selling a new firefighter-inspired perfume, First Response-Boston, by those who believe the scent capitalizes on April’s tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon.

Demeter Fragrance Library launched the new perfume, which incorporates the smell of smoke and rubber, on May 18, a month after the Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three and injured 264 people.

“We have an unusual approach to fragrances; we’re constantly looking for things that resonate. We originally wanted to create a perfume for the New York City fire department, but after the events in Boston we decided to tailor the perfume for the Boston firefighters,” says Demeter CEO Mark D. Crames, who has lived in the Boston area.

Nevertheless, some Bostonians are not pleased.

“It’s pretty soon after the incident to sell a perfume like that,” says Boston resident Lauren Passaro, 21. “I think it’s pretty insensitive.”

Hayley Gundlach of Norwood, Mass., was working at Sugar Heaven, a Boston candy store located at the marathon’s finish line, when she heard the blast outside the storefront. “It was pretty stressful. I was and still am pretty shaken up. For a time I was afraid to go outside by myself. Unexpected loud noises made me jump.”

Gundlach, with her co-workers and customers, escaped the blast through a back alley behind the store and were directed to refuge at a nearby waterfront.

She says, “I’ve lived in Boston all my life but I’ve never seen it so united. I was very proud to live in Boston. Everyone was really together and united, very sensitive to everyone else’s feelings and thoughts.”

For Gundlach, First Response-Boston casts an unpleasant odor. “At first I thought it was weird that someone would want to smell like a firefighter,” she says.

“To me, it’s a little offensive to try to put the tragedy in a bottle. The first responders weren’t just firefighters but also police officers and runners.”

As Gundlach suggests, the perfume could have adverse effects on those who witnessed the tragedy. “That smoke smell is so particular to that day that it can be a trigger for a lot of people emotionally; it strikes me as odd that they would include it.”

Crames denies trying to turn a profit with the perfume.

According to Crames, the company started to design the product well before April. After the events in Boston, he said, they decided to donate 75% of the proceeds to the Boston First Responders Fund, which raises money for bombing victims and their families.

“We hate that we may have hit a bad chord. If need be, we’ll pull the product,” says Crames.

The Professional Fighter Fighters of Massachusetts (PFFM) tells ABC News that they have been aware of the perfume, but not involved in its creation.

“Provided that they follow through with their commitment to make a donation, I think it is well intentioned,” says PFFM president, Edward A. Kelly.

Demeter Fragrance Library expects to send their first donation on June 1.

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