Firefighting

What’s on Your Head?

Issue 4 and Volume 162.

By Barry S. Daskal and Dave Rodahan The firefighter’s helmet is quite possibly the most identifiable symbol of our vocation and a quintessential piece of Americana. Since the 1700s, when Jacobus Turck1 first designed the “traditional” leather fire helmet with a wide brim and tall crown, the basic style he conceived has changed little, but manufacturing and materials have changed drastically. At the turn of the 20th century, aluminum helmets became popular. Though they were molded to look like leather helmets, they were cheaper and did not protect against heat as well. Beginning in the 1970s, high-tech plastic and composite material helmets came into vogue. These helmets featured a suspension system and energy-absorbing foam impact liners; a face shield for partial eye and face protection from heat, sparks, liquids, and flying debris; and flame-resistant flaps to protect the ears and neck.2 By the late 1980s, the old-fashioned leather helmets began…

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