03/12/13 155 W, 1 I - + 3 - 2 Twin Cities Firefighters Buck Tradition with Euro-Style Helmets

Here's an interesting Firehouse.com story, reprinting a Minneapolis Star Tribune story, about the European-style helmets being used by at least ten fire departments in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. They're finding benefits in better protection, lower profiles for rescue situations, and base comfort from its lighter weight. The downsides? Some users report that they can't hear as well (an obvious trade-off that the hearing protection affords). There's also the back of the neck, which requires protection from a fire-retardant cloth shield. Here's a side-by-side comparison photo:

Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune photo

Here are some photos of the helmets at work, via the Twin Cities Fire Wire web site. (Itself an interesting idea. Maybe someone around here will start a Raleigh-Wake Fire Wire web site, where everyone can submit and share photos and news.) Look for photos from Eagan FD, such as this house fire.

Our project manager for turnout gear at Cary FD several years ago got one of these helmets for us to try. He liked it (and wore it on some calls) but like the story says a lot of guys laughed at them. The negative response and cost played a role in us not getting them am sure. Thanks
fire1983 - 03/12/13 - 11:28

I think they’d be a better choice. Better functionality all around, it seems. I’d gladly wear one if RFD made them an option. The article commented on the military not using WWI helmets. A good point. CW Williams sells them, I tried one on and it did feel really comfortable.
Bob - 03/12/13 - 12:28

So, what if traditions were departed from in the name of better/safer methods…? Is change truly appropriate if it is for the betterment of any activity, even if it clashes with tradition or “the way we have always done things?” Are we as a modern fire service actually able or willing to do so? Is it image or service that really matters? Search deep inside…. If we were to place our money where our mouths are, we would all be wearing these helmets, budgets for fire prevention would supersede operations, appropriate service levels would be easily established (“standards of cover”), and the list goes on and on… almost a European approach…
A.C. Rich - 03/12/13 - 18:49

We had these at one time (well something pretty close)...it was called the 660. Replace the face-shield with the Defender system, add removable ESS goggles and there you have it; cheaper too.
Silver - 03/13/13 - 10:11

So out of curiosity A.C. as the chief of a department why are you guys not doing those things? Of all people I would think that the chief, and one as respected as you, would be able to do those things that are ‘truly appropriate’
FF - 03/13/13 - 15:41

I too struggle terribly with traditions and culture… everyday. That’s why I ask the previous questions; even in a rhetorical tone. To me, there is a very fine balance between effectiveness/capability, cost, and compliance. I’ll have to think on this one for a while.
A.C. Rich - 03/13/13 - 16:04

I remember back in the late 90’s when my department wore nothing but Cairn’s 660 and 360 helmets. I was the first one to break loose and buy my own personal Cairn’s 1010 (from the legend himself, Mike Bordeaux) , then came a Houston. Some of the guys would pick on my leather front saying it looked like a huge billboard or how heavy the helmet was. 15 years later my whole department is issued 1010 helmets. I honestly hope I can finish my career with my 1010 and my New Yorker. It may not be this Euro-style helmet, it may be some futuristic looking american made helmet but it’s coming sooner or later I think. Safety overrides tradition nowadays.
Jerry - 03/14/13 - 12:17

I do remember when a vendor sent one to RFD; the helmet was used by one of our training instructors. If memory serves me right I donít think it lasted long during the live fire training! But maybe AC can help on that note?
Jason Lane - 03/18/13 - 15:21

Had a similar issue one time with helmets for EMS folks (in another state and another time). Provided them with high-quality USAR-type helmets with lights, face shields, etc., that were better for working inside tight quarters (like car extrications). Nobody liked ‘em – wanted fire style helmets to look like everybody else.

It is challenging for chief officers to do what they believe is right, in the face of employee “wants.” Do you do the right thing every day, and have the employees dislike you for it, or do you “give” on some things that might or might not really matter? In a perfect world, you would be rewarded for doing the right thing, but in today’s political world, if the employees don’t “like” a chief’s decision, that chief’s job is at risk.
Skip K. (Email) - 03/24/13 - 11:00

Remember personal info?

/ Textile

Comment moderation is enabled on this site. This means that your comment will not be visible on this site until it has been approved by an editor.

To prevent spam we require you to answer this silly question

  (Register your username / Log in)

Hide email:

Small print: All html tags except <b> and <i> will be removed from your comment. You can make links by just typing the url or mail-address.