For over a century, fire departments across the United States have used variations on the same design of fire helmets. With a distinctive wide brim and classic design, this protection has become synonymous with the dangerous work of firefighters.
But the Amherst Fire Department is breaking from tradition, as they have slowly begun to roll out a safer, more modern model of helmet to firefighters.
“It’s main, single advantage to us is the safety aspect, the ergonomics and how it molds to your head,” said Assistant Fire Chief Lindsay Stromgren.
Helmets similar to the AFD’s new Cairns XFI Fire Helmet have been in use for over 10 years in most other parts of the world, Stromgren said. And though Stromgren explained American fire departments are beginning to modernize their equipment, he believes tradition is the main factor behind the lag in upgrades.
Made from a fire-resistant composite material, the helmets no longer have their iconic wide brim — a feature which Stromgren said had proven to be dangerous. Falling debris and exposed wires have been known to hinder the effectiveness of traditional helmets, Stromgren said.
The round shape of the new helmets also covers firefighter’s ears, protecting them just as a motorcycle or racecar helmet protects a driver. Old helmets sit high on the head near a wearer’s hairline, where the new helmets do not.
New equipment also means new technology for the fire department. Updated helmets come with stronger extraction visors for eye protection, along with built-in flashlights and radio communication systems.
“The base helmet itself is a lot safer,” Stromgren said. “But then because they are modern helmets you get all of these additional features.”
Since fire helmets must withstand a lot of harsh conditions, they need to be approved by National Fire Protection Association standards. When the XF1 helmets were approved last October, Stromgren immediately began to look into acquiring them.
“No one wants to use anything that’s not NF approved,” he said.
So far, AFD has only purchased six helmets. Stromgren said he and Fire Chief Tim Nelson have been using them for two weeks — and that the other four will soon be given out to new hires and firefighters who volunteer to test them.
Stromgren said that each helmet cost $295, with an additional $56 for imbedded flashlights and an extra $260 for radio capability. Using a line item for replacement of protective gear in their budget, Stromgren said they will purchase more as funds allow. Additional charges for communication headsets are covered through funds allotted for radio equipment, he said.
For the six helmets already bought, with only three having radio capabilities, Stromgren said the department had spent about $2,500. He said estimates to the total amount of money the department intends to spend is “hard to say,” though they expect to buy another six to 10 units this summer.
“We have to replace the helmets every 10 years,” he said, noting current helmets will eventually be phased out.
At a recent call at the Boulder Apartments, Stromgren had the opportunity to use the helmet for the first time in the field. Though he was not fighting the fire, he said he was happy with how the helmet performed.
“I did wear it for four hours, and found it to be very comfortable,” Stromgren said. “More importantly, the radio communications were phenomenal. I do a lot of talking on the radio as a commander and the radio communications worked great.”
As the AFD purchases more helmets, they will also be customizing with new decals. This is important for identification purposes, Stromgren said.
“It identifies us as Amherst fire, our ranks, et cetera,” he said.
Stromgren said he expects the remaining four helmets will be given out to firefighters in the next month.
Source: togel online via pulsa