Wilmington, NC Fire Department Tests European-Style Fire Helmets

(Wilmington Fire Department photos)

Four firefighters try new helmets

City of Wilmington Fire Department

A handful of Wilmington Fire Department employees are demoing a new style of fire helmet. The helmets incorporate advanced features never before used in the history of the Wilmington Fire Department. Though the manufacturer of the helmet, Cairns Helmets, is the same, the company has teamed up with MSA: The Safety Company to develop this state of the art helmet.

The new helmet, the MSA Cairns XF1, has a look not unlike a motorcycle or jet pilot helmet. It is smaller, lighter, and more low profile than the current fire helmets in use by WFD firefighters. This reduces snags on hazards while fighting fire. The new model offers several ways to adjust the helmet, allowing for a better and more personalized fit. It also has an integrated shield, which provides a higher degree of face and eye protection than older models. The shield conveniently stores up into the helmet so it doesn’t get damaged when not in use. The helmet’s design also allows for easy disassembly for inspection and cleaning, which aligns with the department’s commitment to cancer prevention.

All those features are great, but what are possibly the most beneficial advantages of the helmet are the integrated lighting and communication systems. The helmet has LED lights mounted into the helmet, allowing for hands-free lighting no matter which way you turn your head. Speakers and a microphone are also mounted inside the helmet. This allows the firefighters to clearly communicate while wearing their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or air packs, which is difficult in a loud setting like a working fire and imperative that the message is clearly given and received.

This jet-style of helmet is already widely used in other countries around the world, but has only recently started making its way into the American firehouse. WFD currently has three employees demoing the new style.

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