By Robert Avsec for FireRescueOne BrandFocus
Do you know the origins of your current firefighter helmet? Perhaps not, so here's a quick look at where the traditional fire helmet and all its modern versions came from.
The helmet was originally developed to protect the firefighter’s head from objects or debris falling from above.
What about the eagle on the headpiece which holds your company or department shield in place? Sure, it’s got ornamental appeal, but it was also useful as a forcible entry tool for breaking windows.The wide rear bill of the helmet was designed to prevent hot water and hot embers from reaching the firefighter’s neck or falling down the inside their coat. (Our firefighting forefathers could not have foreseen the conflict between that rear bill and an SCBA cylinder every time you try to look up!)
Everything since then has been an add-on of some sort: flashlights of all sizes and designs; Bourke eye shields, full face shields and goggles (which then needed their own add-on: a case to protect them from heat and debris damage).
What if you were designing a helmet for all the jobs that you do today? For structural firefighting, auto extrication, wildland fires and all those other emergency responses you and your department make, you probably would want a helmet that:
Sound about right?
In its Cairns XF1 fire helmet, MSA Safety has designed a helmet that incorporates all those wish-list items. Here are the features MSA has put into the MSA Cairns XF1 fire helmet:
Quarterbacks in the National Football League have radio receivers in their helmet so that they can receive plays and directions from their coaches during a game in front of 75,000 or so screaming fans. If it makes sense for the NFL, why shouldn’t it for firefighters on an emergency scene?
The Cairns XF1 fire helmet also contains a communications module that easily fits inside the helmet and doesn’t affect wearer comfort. The speakers are located near ear to create a more conducive environment for hearing critical radio communications. The flexible, noise-cancelling electric boom microphone can be used with or without your face piece and doesn’t require batteries.
Just about every aspect of the XF1 has been engineered to reduce potential snags – lighting, eye and face protection and communications are all contained inside the helmet or integrated into its design. The result is sleek and seamless design that meets the safety and comfort requirements of today’s firefighters.
The MSA Cairns XF1 may not be the helmet that your great-grandfather would have designed for you, but then again, your great-grandfather wasn’t the firefighter that you are, was he?