New Helmets Being Tested by Local Firemen

Kittanning Hose Company #6 Fire Fighter Allison Kline wears the new XF1 helmet while holding one of the older helmets.

Fire fighters at Kittanning’s Hose Company #6 are sporting a new look in equipment-wear.

According to Fire Chief Scott Kline, a new European-style fire helmet is being tested over the next few months.

“Recently, we’re looking to change out of the traditional fire helmets from the leather classical looking helmet, which is a little heavier on your head, to the new helmet. MSA has released the XF1 fire helmet. It looks like a jet fighter helmet. It meets all the NFA (National Fire Academy) compliances. MSA released 100 of the helmets between the United States and Canada for a wear-test and fit-test program. We actually filed with MSA to try to be one of the ones to have one of the helmets shipped here for us to try and they did. We had a MSA representative here last month with the helmet, went over it with the guys, and told us the pros and what they’re expecting out of the helmet. So, we are actually utilizing it now before we make the decision to switch us over to them.”

Kline said a total switch to the new helmet would not be cheap!

“We wrote the grant for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). To switch to the new helmet, it is going to cost us right around between $8,000 and $9,000.”

Kline said updating equipment is always a challenge in volunteer companies.

“The National Fire Protection Association states that every 10 years, you need to rotate out your turnout gear and your helmet protection. Right now, I’ve got some aging helmets right up to anywhere from 12 to 20 years old, so that’s why we’re looking to doing the change out now.”

Kline said helmets are personal to each fire fighter.

“We’ll probably award the old helmets to each of the guys who have worn them. It’s kind of a piece of their family in a way. The first thing you get whenever you become a firefighter is your helmet. A lot of people take a loving to it and it’s personal to them.”

Kline said a good hand-made leather-crafted helmet can cost as much as $1,100 each these days. However, the new helmets are projected to cost approximately $400 each.

Kline said the new helmets also have some new technology built into the visor.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a different look for us. The new helmet comes with a full head protection, both on the top and the sides. It comes with a light package to where it actually illuminates with LED lights where you’re walking. If you’re in a building, you’ll actually be able to identify where the other folks are at just by the integrated light system. Because the full-face shield comes down, it offers better visibility than the traditional helmet.”