How Do Firefighting Helmets Work to Keep Firefighters Safe?

Firefighting helmets have saved countless lives. They’ve saved the lives of the courageous, selfless firefighters who fearlessly tackle infernal blazes, as well as the lives of the innumerable individuals who would have otherwise succumbed to those flames. So let’s explore a bit of the history of this irreplaceable, revolutionary product. The First Helmets The glut of helmet design occurred in the 18th century, a time of much industrial and urban progress. The first “stovepipe” helmets offered top-hat aesthetics but little protection. However, they did identify the firefighters’ departments. A more effective variant emerged around 1740. It was made of leather since leather does not melt and soon received a core of iron wire for adding strength and resistance to warping. The more iconic, functional helmet came courtesy of FDNY firefighter Henry T. Gratacap circa 1836. It was strengthened by four sewn-together combs, or crests — the equivalent of weight-supporting architectural arches. This improved design also featured a shield that could be used to break windows and brims that protected the face and neck while also channeling water and embers away from the collar of the coat. 

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