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    Default lifespan of a helmet?

    quick question for anyone who may know? i know nfpa standard on lifespan of a leather is 5yrs, but is that just for leathers or for any helmet i have a cairns 1010 and a friend of mine has an 880 and he thinks there both out of date. so if anybody can set this straight for me it would be appreciated.

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    10 years for PPE, including all helmets.

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    With some of the guys I have, you would think about a week.

    10 years and replace as long as it remains sound. In this sense, sound does not mean the same as functional or pretty. Inspect the helmet often or after every use, or sometimes during use. Things can happen even if you haven't used it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lt29 View Post
    quick question for anyone who may know? i know nfpa standard on lifespan of a leather is 5yrs, but is that just for leathers or for any helmet i have a cairns 1010 and a friend of mine has an 880 and he thinks there both out of date. so if anybody can set this straight for me it would be appreciated.
    DESPITE what Nfpa tells you, a Leather in a moderate use dept can be good for LONGER than ten years IF you take care of it. Keep the paint up and check it inside and out every so often. Mine's over 10 yrs and is pretty near as good as the day it came out of the box. But I keep after it too. T.C.

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    The 10 year rule is stupid. Gear should not expire, more so in a department that doesn't see much fire.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    The 10 year rule is stupid. Gear should not expire, more so in a department that doesn't see much fire.
    I have to agree with you GT. In NFPAs infinite wisdom they have this very wrong. They completely ignore what happens in the real world, but isn't that typical of those in charge of us little people. Safety policies do not always make sense and some defy logic.

    The reality in the real world is many departments are lucky if they see a single 'new to them' helmet when someone generously donated it after replacing some of their gear.

    Money is not the same as common sense. More issues are solved with common sense than with money.

    I think a little common sense is called for here.
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    I agree that the set "10 year limit" is stupid. But it really would not surprise me if that rule is the only reason that some cities EVER replace gear. "Is it tore up? Too bad, it's got 2 years of service life left, so quit your bitching!"

    If you take care of your gear, it will last a long time. Clean your helmet after fires, that gives you the best opportunity to look for cracks and other wear & tear after a call.

    The only real solid rule for replacing helmets should be the requirement to switch it out after it recieves a significant impact IMO.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinKnight View Post
    I have to agree with you GT. In NFPAs infinite wisdom they have this very wrong. They completely ignore what happens in the real world, but isn't that typical of those in charge of us little people. Safety policies do not always make sense and some defy logic.

    The reality in the real world is many departments are lucky if they see a single 'new to them' helmet when someone generously donated it after replacing some of their gear.

    Money is not the same as common sense. More issues are solved with common sense than with money.

    I think a little common sense is called for here.
    Our Department along with our gear people in 2005-7ish I believe started taking the helmets back that were 1st issued with the bunker gear in 1995 or slightly later when this 10 year rule was proposed.

    They took the helmets and began putting them through the NFPA test and checked them for meeting the standard.

    With few exceptions they passed inspection. Does it make sense for a city to replace a perfectly good piece of equipment? Nope; Does it make sense for a manufact. for you to replace a perfectly safe peice of equipment? Yes it most certainly does.

    We tried to get an exception in the standard that allowed if a department could prove that the helmets lasted longer than 10 years so they wouldn't have to issue them in a cumpulsorary manner. It got voted down...suprise!

    I continue to maintain the NFPA should be tried under RICO statues as they are nothing more than a front for the manufacures who should have no vote in what we do and dont buy. There are too many rubes on these pannels that let this stuff slide by. Advisory role, yes, final votes, no. It is a hopelessly corrupt organization that is only interested in their own self-preservation at this point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PNEFD23 View Post
    10 years for PPE, including all helmets.
    And is it not 10 years from the date of manufacture? Kind of makes you wonder if you can purchase gear pro rated.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FiremanLyman View Post
    And is it not 10 years from the date of manufacture? Kind of makes you wonder if you can purchase gear pro rated.
    Everything now has a born on date. 15 years ago no one cared how old soda was in their machines, now people refuse to drink outdated Pepsi! As FFFRED has maintained, this is a rule forced upon us to sell more equipment. Those FD's that never replaced gear were ignoring the old NFPA PPE rules to start, this one didn't change that.

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    I agree with the other posters, helmets should be replaced after a significant impact or when defects are found during inspection. I can wear the thing into a fire the day before it turns 10, but at 10 its not defective. Give me a break.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    The 10 year rule is stupid. Gear should not expire, more so in a department that doesn't see much fire.
    Fire or no fire, materials degrade and gear standards change.

    A mint condition canvas raincoat may have been state of the art PPE in 1964 but it has no business on the fireground today.

    NFPA doesn't (typically) pull numbers out of a hat when it writes a standard. Ten years is the agreed consensus on the maximum recommended service life for fire service PPE. Unless your jurisdiction has adopted the relevent NFPA standards as law, you're welcome to keep it in service as long as you like but god help you if you have a gear failure related injury.

    Maintaining critical safety equipment to recognized standards is part of the cost of doing business -- no matter much much or little fire a department sees.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    A mint condition canvas raincoat may have been state of the art PPE in 1964 but it has no business on the fireground today.
    But it's not the age of the canvas turnout - it's the technology. A brand new canvas turnout coat wouldn't be acceptable today, either.

    Wear and degradation of the material is one thing. Regular inspection should take care of that issue. But if an item passes inspection (we'll assume by a competent inspector), it should be good.

    Of course, NFPA has taken a page from the patent book, too, wherein a slight change to the formula/design/etc keeps an otherwise identical item "unique". By making a slight change to the standard (ie, DRD, integral class 2 harness), suddenly even your one-year-old gear no longer passes muster.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    But it's not the age of the canvas turnout - it's the technology. A brand new canvas turnout coat wouldn't be acceptable today, either.
    It's really a bit of both but, with regard to the technology, that's one of the reasons cited for the 10 year service life. PPE technology has consistently evolved. A 10 year old piece of PPE is typically 2 to 3 standards revisions and numerous TIAs behind the current technology.

    Wear and degradation of the material is one thing. Regular inspection should take care of that issue. But if an item passes inspection (we'll assume by a competent inspector), it should be good.
    I agree to a point with the exception that not all material failures are visible. Some can only be detected by destructive testing. Periodic inspections are crucial to detect those failures and impending failures but they aren't sufficient to justify keeping PPE in service indefinitely.


    By making a slight change to the standard (ie, DRD, integral class 2 harness), suddenly even your one-year-old gear no longer passes muster.
    Not true. PPE "passes muster" if it's compliant with the standards in force at its date of manufacture and if that date is less than 10 years in the past.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    It's really a bit of both but, with regard to the technology, that's one of the reasons cited for the 10 year service life. PPE technology has consistently evolved. A 10 year old piece of PPE is typically 2 to 3 standards revisions and numerous TIAs behind the current technology.
    I'm a bit skeptical on this. Yes, PPE technology has advanced, but are the useful advances? DRD's they are good ideas and probably a useful advance (never used one in a fire and haven't heard enough of their use so I can't decide either way). But all the advances in TPP, heat protection, and bundling ourselves up I'm not sure are truly necessary. Fires do burn differently then yesteryear, but I think we take a lot of unnecessary heat through **** poor or non-existent truck work and not using the hose to its full effectiveness.

    New techonology might be good, but I'm not sold we should force costs on depts. because of it. As for the material degradation based on age, I am behind that.

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    So lets take this to the next step...

    What if NFPA rewrites 1901 to state that all apparatus must be replaced every 10 years?

    Does that change anyone's mind on this?

    This is where we're going... and this is the shear nonsense.

    The argument has been made you better comply because if the PPE comes into question, you will be held to the standard. 11 year old helmet burns down to the skull cap. 12 year old Coat ignites burns through to the thermal liner. 1 year old Mask melts into face. FF left with scars but survives. That was me...

    Now who am I going to sue?

    I guess it is a good thing that I am not vain. My body is far from the same as it was the day I joined the service. Part of that is called aging, and some is called battle injuries. You combine the two, and you look like crap.

    Face it guys, you picked a tough occupation. So when we get hurt, maimed, or disfigured, we want to hold someone's feet to the fire to make us whole again... right?

    I understand MFG defects like in SCBA with regulator failure. I understand cancer after 20-30 years of breathing the crap we are exposed to.

    But we chose this, we own it, man up and get over it. You have to take some of the damn RESPONSIBILITY!

    If you want to keep the same face and body that you had before you selected this job, then you should have picked something else... say like a model or TV star... maybe a shoe salesman or go work at Wally World. The risks are limited in those occupations, unless you tick off a customer... which some would undoubtedly would.

    Well folks, if you don't have the money to replace the PPE, then you're not replacing it. There isn't enough money on the planet to solve all of the issues and all the BS that the human race demands.

    The attorneys can argue all day "it's about the standard you failed to abide by." I have seen it, I heard the argument. But face the fact, stupidity or a command decision is usually where it moves to.

    NFPA might be law in some jurisdictions... because it was so much easier to adopt something that was already written for them than taking the time to research the damn issue. But if these cities did read it and understood the can of worms of liability they opened themselves up to, they would just toss it out.


    Hell I want a new boat, mine is 10 years old. It doesn't look the same as the day I bought it. The fiberglass has nicks and some paint is discolored. I think I might talk with the State about how rough their lake has been on my boat. Maybe they will help me buy a new one. This could be a safety issue... it might sink and I might drown. Wah, Wah, Wah...

    We do this crap to ourselves. Get informed and stay safe my friends.
    Last edited by PaladinKnight; 08-15-2010 at 02:47 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    Not true. PPE "passes muster" if it's compliant with the standards in force at its date of manufacture and if that date is less than 10 years in the past.
    Yeah - but even though it passes muster based on that criteria - try replacing it in-kind.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinKnight View Post
    So lets take this to the next step...

    What if NFPA rewrites 1901 to state that all apparatus must be replaced every 10 years?

    Does that change anyone's mind on this
    Just out of morbid curiousity, for all those who have a negative interpretation of the NFPA peer consensus process, how many serve on NFPA committees or have at least submitted a proposal or comment to the NFPA standards procedure?

    This is where we're going... and this is the shear nonsense.
    I disagree. The process is consensus based and not without valid reasons for the development of standards.

    Now who am I going to sue?
    If law suits are your preferred method of problem solving, you (or your insurance company) are going to sue the agency responsible for not following the ackowledged peer consensus standard of care in your chosen profession. Their relative exposure to liability will likely vary in accordance with their compliance with the consensus on their professional field which will lie very close to the NFPA relavant standards.

    But we chose this, we own it, man up and get over it. You have to take some of the damn RESPONSIBILITY!
    Agreed. That includes agreeing to go to work in non-compliant PPE.
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    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Yeah - but even though it passes muster based on that criteria - try replacing it in-kind.
    Why would you want to replace PPE based on an outdated standard?
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    DM: I have been part of the process.

    The one thing that I can say about that is it is not consensus based. It is based on who is there and who they represent. The vast majority of opinions are not represented, mostly because many do not think their voice matters.

    The entire Fire Service is not queried and the process is not a clear picture of the spectrum. But it is the system in place, like it or not.

    I will also state that most of the players do not take this lightly, and do not set out to make the standards something that is not achievable. It is centered around safety, ours and the public.

    What I am saying is very little thought is given to the true economic reality in the rural and disadvantaged regions. They look at the issues as applied to the urban/suburban attributes and not small town Main Street USA. So call this poplation based if you wish.

    I don't think you and I are really that far apart on whether we need Standards. We may not agree about how they are applied or what the intended meaning is. You are talking about a principal, I am talking about the economic reality.

    It is easy to state: The public gets what they pay for, or if they want protection, the public will have to pay for it.

    Look how the public resents how much is being crammed down their throat in the last couple of years. I won't argue that about half the country wants it all, with the Government paying the bill. The other half resents it because they are the ones that will pay for it. The taxpayers are the governments money supply. The government will make a lot of extra money after the first of the year. Do you think new spending will solve issues or create new ones?

    When we run out of money.... well that already happened didn't it? Let me start again. When cities, towns and counties finally begin to comprehend that they are out of money, tehnically broke, because of past practices, something will have to give. it is already well underway.

    How many Firefighters have been laid off? IF the economic reality is that we must lay off firefighters across many cities and towns, then would not the economic reality be that NFPA compliance is moved down the list of importancy. When you have 3 guys on a Truck and two on an Engine, then how did that get closer to NFPA Compliant? It gets closer to the econmic reality of what can be afforded, maybe. We say that is dangerous or marginal. I do not disagree.

    So if it is happening in Ohio, then you can bet your bucks it happening everywhere.

    If WE are going to refuse to work in PPE because it does not met the Standard, then be prepared to watch our own downfall.

    If the lawsuits begin to Challenge the adopted codes and hold the Jursdictions responsible for PPE that is outside of the adopted standard, then be prepared to see new rules that provide protection against these suits, at the same time that Jurisdictions begin to figure out that NFPA is too extreme for them and they can no longer afford it. This isn't a new argument.

    Remember the old saying... "you can't sue city hall"? Well someone figured out that you really can if you can prove negligence.

    So what we have done in reality is force alot of departments to become negligent, and there is nothing that they can do about it.

    They don't deliberately violate NFPA.

    They would like to be compliant, because that would mean they would vastly improve across the board.

    The reality is they can't afford it, and there is no way they can solve it.

    So if we begin to hold everyone to this standard with new rules of engagement (fees, fines, penalties), then we are creating an elitist separation of services. The haves will have and the have-nots will not have. Fire Protection in the heartland will be gone.

    You think it won't or can't happen? Look at health care right now. You don't play the game, you pay the piper.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    Fire or no fire, materials degrade and gear standards change.

    A mint condition canvas raincoat may have been state of the art PPE in 1964 but it has no business on the fireground today.

    NFPA doesn't (typically) pull numbers out of a hat when it writes a standard. Ten years is the agreed consensus on the maximum recommended service life for fire service PPE. Unless your jurisdiction has adopted the relevent NFPA standards as law, you're welcome to keep it in service as long as you like but god help you if you have a gear failure related injury.

    Maintaining critical safety equipment to recognized standards is part of the cost of doing business -- no matter much much or little fire a department sees.
    And I'm QUITE sure my N6A at 12+ will STILL pass test and most likely will at 20 years. Comes a time agencies PARTICULARLY Gov. needs to back off particularly in lean times,such as we're going thru now. I don't agree with a majority of these forced mandates and I never will. I believe COMPETENT Fire Officers can run a SAFE operation without being saddled with a bunch of Bureaucratical BS.We wear out coats/pants at around 5 years,but for some members it is good for a lot longer. Time to put some lawyers in the unemployment lines before we can no longer AFFORD to live in this Country,A period that is FAST approaching.The regulations and expenses of doing business are eclipsing the money available to meet said regulations.It is out of control. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 08-15-2010 at 07:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinKnight View Post
    What I am saying is very little thought is given to the true economic reality in the rural and disadvantaged regions. They look at the issues as applied to the urban/suburban attributes and not small town Main Street USA. So call this poplation based if you wish.
    Is fire different according to the budget of the city it's burning in?

    The standards process isn't intended to replace the budget process; it's intended to determine the consensus of how things ought to be. Meeting standards -- or not -- is a local issue.

    When you have 3 guys on a Truck and two on an Engine, then how did that get closer to NFPA Compliant?
    FWIW, NFPA doesn't set a standard for manning so nobody is
    "compliant" in that respect.

    If WE are going to refuse to work in PPE because it does not met the Standard, then be prepared to watch our own downfall.
    If we're willing to go to work in substandard PPE, maybe we deserve it.

    They don't deliberately violate NFPA.

    You can't "violate" NFPA but you can be willfully non-compliant. That's not the same as making a godd faith effort to be as nearly compliant as budget and reasonable regard for safety allows.

    So if we begin to hold everyone to this standard with new rules of engagement (fees, fines, penalties),
    But that's not an NFPA issue.
    Last edited by DeputyMarshal; 08-16-2010 at 08:55 AM. Reason: typo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Comes a time agencies PARTICULARLY Gov. needs to back off particularly in lean times,such as we're going thru now.
    The NFPA isn't a government agency and they don't have any "forced mandates."
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    The NFPA isn't a government agency and they don't have any "forced mandates."
    I'm generalizing,and it seems a lot of the NFPA BS finds it's way into LAW as you well know. The Stupidity of the country continues to INCREASE. Therein all these forced "standards" if you prefer that to mandates. But there are PLENTY of forced mandates too. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    The NFPA isn't a government agency and they don't have any "forced mandates."
    True, but they are perceived as an "expert witness" whose "standards" may be cited in lawsuits.

    The perception (voiced earlier in the thread) that said standards may be set for reasons other than firefighter safety forms a central theme in this discussion.

    It's also a two-edged sword. One fire department may cite the standard in an effort to force whoever pays their bills to purchase new gear, while another may question the standard because they feel their gear is still perfectly servicable and want to put off the expense.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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