1. #1
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    Question Non NFPA compliant helmets

    Yesterday one of my firefighters came to me with an older Cairns N5, the one without a skull cap, just leather on the inside. He asked me if he was aloud to use it for firefighting and I said I didn't think so but lets go check the SOP's. Well, the only thing I found was the helmet color/rank listing and upkeep of helmets, so I went to the chief and he said, "that's the same type helmet I used when I first started and fires are just a hot now as they were when I rode the tailboard, so he can wear it." Hmm I thought, these helmets are not NFPA aproved because of saftey reasons but the chief dosen't care. Then my firefighter said "your helmet isn't NFPA aproved either." He was right, it does have a skull cap but it isn't NFPA aproved(newer N5). So, the point of this post is how many of you use the N5 without the skull cap or how many use non NFPA approved helmets and what does you department say about it. Also, if something happens to while wearing it, are you covered.
    Once upon a time, at a firehouse far, far away.....

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    Personally, I would ask a senior officer or chief whether or not to allow it. However, I will say this:

    First thing that you need to take into consideration is whether or not you are an OSHA regulated state or NFPA agency. I'll use my dept as an example. We MUST comply with New York State LAW which all PPE must be OSHA approved (the older N5's are not, the newer N5A's are). So from a legal stand point the Cairns N5A is acceptable. However....

    NFPA is a nationally recognised guide line. There is nothing that says it must be used BUT should one get hurt wearing non NFPA approved PPE and decides to sue the dept or chief (or anyone else for that matter), the lawyer will have a field day with the lawsuit.

    As far as what we do, all firefighters are issued Cairns 1010's. Any gear other than dept issue must be aproved by the Office of the Chief.

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    Default Long live leather

    There have been many many postings about this same topic.
    If you live in a Non- NFPA state, meaning your state has not adopted and paid for all the rules Regs the NFPA has. Then you must follow the OSHA Regs. OSHA either “state or fed” is the law and says you cannot wear an N5A without the impact Dome or goggles. The N5A with the dome is OSHA Compliant not NFPA, put a set of those “Mad bomber “glasses on the N5A with the Impact dome and your legal. Now this all goes out the window if you work in a Dept. Who’s local policies and procedures decides, Even though you OSHA compliant you still must have the higher level of protection you got to where the “Mad bomber” glasses.

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    OK then, does anyone know if you can get one of the skull caps for the N5 and put it in. If so, where can you get them.
    Once upon a time, at a firehouse far, far away.....

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    Talking Try...

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    PS- I think you meant "allowed" vs. "aloud".

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    First of all, there is no such thing as an "NFPA State". The state, like NJ, may have adopted some NFPA regulations for the oversight and regulaiton of PPE, but there is no state in which there has been a wholesale adoption of all NFPA regs.

    Secondly, I am generally a "leather forever" guy, but...

    I would consider the ramifications of what would happen if that fire fighter were injured while wearing non-compliant gear. The FD could be open to a big problem and the member could place his benefits in jeopardy.

    In NJ, all gear must be NFPA compliant. If the DFS comes in and does an audit of the gear, the non-compliant gear wcould cost the FD a hefty fine. They also conduct an audit after a line-of-duty incident.

    Third, I think the inside area of the old N5 does not allow for the retrofit of OSHA-compliant parts. I looked at it years ago and that is what I was told.

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    George is correct. You can not retrofit parts to upgrade a helmet such as adding a skull cap. When skull caps became required they redesigned the helmet shell to make it a bit larger to accomodate them.

    What I don't understand is this. If your helmet has a skull cap and either full face protected (ie; shield or goggles) then it is compliant. Look inside for a lable that says NFPA Compliant....

    Yes...allowing personnel to where there own gear does create a liability questions and that liablilty question increases hugely when you allow them to wear non-compliant equipment.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Stan,

    To be NFPA compliant, the helmet has a layer of kevlar for additional penetration protection. That is the difference between a 5A with goggles and a 6A with goggles. It also adds more weight.

    My department uses a mix of helmets from leathers pre-skull cap, leather with the cap, NFPA leathers, and polycarbs etc. As long as the helmet was compliant when it was issued, you can wear it. (At least thats my departments rule). Since the standards changes as often as most people flush the toilet, it could be very cost prohibitive to keep up.

    Dave

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    As long as the helmet was compliant when it was issued, you can wear it. (At least thats my departments rule).
    That's bad advice. Using your reasoning (or your department' rule), you could still wear aluminum helmets and rubber gloves. In NJ, the department must be wearing current gear.

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    I agree with what you are saying George, but a little common sense needs to fit in hear too. If you bought new gear each time they changed the standard, most depts would be financially strapped. And I bet if you look, there are departments still using aluminum helmets.........but that is another story.

    Dave

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    From my own (likely skewed) perspective, many NFPA standards go a little bit overboard. The old N5's are still in service nationwide, and their wearers are still alive. I say that if someone wants to continue their use, fine. Not to advocate the use of extremely antiquated equipment here, but there are still departments using Scott IIA's with functioning demand valves.

    Back to helmets here, I have often wondered why the skull cap is thought to be a necessity in the NFPA's mind, but not in OSHA's - ever seen a construction hardhat with a skull cap? Personally, I like the lighter weight and better ventilation afforded by the non-NFPA helmets. I've got an old Phenix (LAFD type) which sadly, has been relegated to brush duty, but from a comfort standpoint, it is like night and day against my current 660C. There's been 2 past 660's as well, and the 1995 version is by far the best in my eyes. While there are obvious safety and thermal benefits in the skull cap, is it really necessary? My guess would be a resounding no.

    In conclusion, I believe that while well intentioned, the NFPA focuses far too much on the technical, and neglects to get enough input from the troops in the field. A classic example is structural firefighting gloves - over the years they've gotten so bulky that any form of fine dexterity is a pipe dream, causing firefighters to remove their gloves during operations to perform tasks that were relatively simple to accomplish while gloved 2 or 3 standard changes ago. Realistically, thanks to the bloodborne pathogen standards, we have gone back to Redballs - except they now have leather shells for abrasion resistance. And aluminum helmets are still hanging around, albeit on a limited basis among veteran wildland firefighters, mostly on PNW Hotshot crews.
    Fiberglass forever!! (they won't let us have leather)

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    The skullcap is required by both NFPA and OSHA. I do agree however that the standard may be a little overboard in this case. There are still plenty of guys wearing the pre-skullcap helmets without having their heads broken. I am sure I get called a dinosuar for that but....what the heck.

    Dave

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    Of course common sense has to play into it. The problem is that you are taking a subjective criteria (if it was compliant when you bought it, it's OK) and attempting to set objective goals (fire fighter safety). It is a problem. When that fire fighter gets injured or killed using non-compliant gear, there is a likelihood that regualtory agencies or insurance companies are not going to buy into your subjective world.

    Overboard or not, there are places, like NJ, where wearing compliant gear is mandatory. I am not doubting you, but I find it hard to believe that MA is not one of those states. They regulate everything else up there.

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    Originally posted by George Wendt, CFI
    Overboard or not, there are places, like NJ, where wearing compliant gear is mandatory. I am not doubting you, but I find it hard to believe that MA is not one of those states. They regulate everything else up there.
    Yup...until the Massachusetts Fire Chiefs say to Governor Jane "not so" Swift...show me the money to replace everything!

    I do have to say that the head of the Department of Fire Services, State Fire Marshal Steven Coan is an asset to us. He is an advocate of firefighter health and safety and has spent many hours walking through the halls of the state house lining up support for the firefighters of the Commonweath. He "walks the walk, talks the talk" and gets things done!

    The prior administration of Governor Paul Celluci did give the Massachusetts Fire Service $10 Million in grants to purchase equipment to enhance firefighter health and safety (we purchased two additional thermal imaging cameras with our grant)
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    You might snap your neck if something falls on you while you are wearing your helmet...but look at the bright side...at least it didn't puncture your skull!
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    Many rural VFD's would be happy gust to have any gear--- compliant is out the window. Went to a fire the other day, two stations were there might have been 3or4 that were fitted out "legally" the rest blue jeans and "T" shirts to anything between the two extremes. The chance that they can obtain the "out of date" gear is welcome--you bigger stations look around your area and empty your closets

    Be safe the dragon still bites

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    Actually, you don't have to change every time the standard does. Most standards require you to upgrade when a replacement is to be made. It is true in some cases that as long as it was compliant when you bought it, its ok. There have been several instances, hip boots and the Cairns Senator are two.. where a specific component has been banned. We have passed PEOSH inspections where our older spare or probie gear was still OK, although some of the helmets (660's in that case, are from the 80's!) NJ also allows OSHA helmets.. the 5A leather lobby must have been tough.. but everything else is NFPA.

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    hfd66truck..thanks for clearing that tib bit of information up. That is one that I missed. Could never understand the difference in the two.

    I am a supporter of compliant gear but whomever said that if you changed gear (completely) each time the standard, changed your department would go broke for sure.

    ADZE....good point...interesting perspective.

    Perhaps George can shed light on this question. It is my understanding that the who reason the skull cap was required in the Leather Helmets was this. In the testing process they soaked the helmet in water (submerged) for 24 hours and then drope a brick on it from XXX Feet and the penetration exceded the maximum. Is that true? I have never been on a fire and had my head in water for 24 hours....

    Please don't misunderstand me. I am a proponent of the best gear and safety standards to the max. I just often wonder where they get these testing criteria.
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    Capstan,

    Not sure of the actual test, but the impact cap is meant to prevent penetration of the leather shell by foreign objects. How the extra layer of Kevlar in the Sam Houstons protects better than the New Yorkers, however, I don't know.

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    That's my understanding of the test, too. It's pretty unrealistic. I think that one thing you have to keep in mind (and I'm surprised someone hasn't siad it earlier) is that there are a significant number of manufacturer reps on these committees. If they don't sell new equipment, they don't have a job.

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    If I am not mistaken, the impact cap was designed to protect one's cranium from the drop of a sharp object from the height of 8 feet. Just my luck, I would get hit in the head with a sharp object dropped from an 8 feet, 1 inch height!

    Anthing of any weight dropped from any height has got to hurt just a little!
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    On my job LEATHER RULES!!!!! About 75% of the guys have leather and quite a few have 5A without the skull cap. Haven't had any accidents yet. One guy has a panel collapsing (time to replace it!!) and others have small holes etc. When the current chief was made in 98' he tried to outlaw the skull capless leathers, but many kindly reminded him that only a week before he was wearing one with holes throughout. So it was dropped. In defense of CRUST I would have to say let em' wear it.
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

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    Forget the helmets,

    We ride 3 on a truck, even the ladder.

    That will get me killed quicker than a non-NFPA helmet.

    Fix that, then I'll worry about the helmet.

    P.S. I wear a non-NFPA Cairns 891A (1991) w/ bourkes and safety glasses. It is a great helmet, light, great fit, love it. If a spike gets driven through my skull in a fire, they can put a letter in my file. But, put the helmet in my casket, I want to show it to God.

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    FHandz17-

    Move to my area of New England. Would you like to be the officer on the Ladder, or the driver? Because those are your options in many places.

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    FHandz17- Wrote:
    If a spike gets driven through my skull in a fire, they can put a letter in my file. But, put the helmet in my casket, I want to show it to God.
    I like that one. I cant say that I completely agree but I like it. LOL
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