Safety Fire Helmet



THE traditional American leather firefighter’s helmet with its distinctive long rear brim, frontpiece, and crest adornment was first developed around 1821-1836 in New York City. Henry T. Gratacap, a New York City luggage maker by trade, is often credited as the developer of this style of fire helmet. Gratacap created a specially treated leather helmet with a segmented “comb” design that led to unparalleled durability and strength. The elongated rear brim (also known as a duckbill or beavertail) and frontpiece were 19th century innovations that remain the most identifiable feature of firefighter’s helmets. The body of the helmet was primarily designed to deflect falling debris, the rear brim prevented water from running down firefighters’ backs, and their sturdy crowns could aid, if necessary, in breaking windows.This leather fire helmet was made around 1870. The helmet has eight combs, and is painted dark blue overall. An ivy-vine design is stamped around the brim of the hat. The frontpiece holder is a small metal figuring depicting a fireman shouting into his speaking trumpet.


There is no more iconic design anywhere in the firefighting world than in the shape of a firefighter’s helmet. This classic design has endured through centuries. Many people are left wondering whether the shape serves a purpose or if it’s purely decorative?

Firefighter helmets are shaped the way they are based on their history. Earlier helmets made from leather or metal found the shape to keep hot water and fire embers off the neck and face. This style has influenced modern-day fire helmets.

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Why Are Fire Helmets Shaped That Way?

There is, of course, a practical purpose to the shape of the fire helmet and while fire helmets have changed, to some degree, over the years – their core practical functions have not.

The reinforced “dome” is meant to ensure that if something falls on a firefighter’s head that it doesn’t injure the firefighter. The shield can be used for breaking windows. The neck is protected and if you reverse the helmet and point your chin down, the helmet can protect a firefighter’s face too.

In short, it’s a highly functional garment and the shape is not arbitrary at all. So, let’s take a look at the development of the firefighting helmet over the years.




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