The helmet is the most iconic part of a firefighter’s personal protective equipment—and it’s one of the most vital. If you or someone you know intends to become a firefighter, here’s what to look for in a firefighter helmet to ensure it is as functional as it is iconic.
Meeting Safety Requirements
Every fire helmet must meet the requirements set by the NFPA 1971 standards to ensure that the wearer is safe and the helmet will serve its purpose. These regulations will also serve as a helpful guide to what you should expect in any good helmet—from its shell construction to its absorbing layer that will protect you from the impact of falling debris.
To meet these requirements, the next thing you need to look for in a firefighter helmet is the materials—they should be durable and strong to ensure that they will last. Some quality materials for firefighter helmets include thermoplastics and polycarbonate shells, but a good way to ensure the helmet’s quality and that it meets all requirements is to check if it was made within the U.S. Helmets made within the U.S. must adhere to the same regulations you must follow, while foreign manufacturers may have different requirements to adhere to.
Finding a Comfortable Fit
Before browsing helmets, you should get an idea of your head’s size. Every manufacturer will size their helmets differently, so you should ask right off the bat whether a manufacturer’s helmets run large or small. From there, find a helmet that fits comfortably on your head. For instance, a heavier helmet may be comfortable for some but put too much weight on your neck. Lighter helmets may be a bit less durable or effective, but so long as they meet NFPA requirements, you can rest easy knowing they’ll still be able to protect you properly. Never choose something uncomfortable because you believe it’ll be better; you’ll need to wear this helmet for long periods in all kinds of conditions.