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Thread: do leather helmets pass impact tests better than non-leathers ones?

  1. #81
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    This thread has gotten a little ridiculous.

    A long time ago, in a far away land, I was present for some live fire trainings where we did some stupid things like standing up in a room for a little bit longer than was smart. There was no intention to "season" helmets... guys were just experiencing heat at different levels, and things got a little too warm.

    The 2-year old leather helmet in the room did not explode, nor did it burn. The paint did not blister, nor char. The face shield did melt, and the reflective squares did get crisped.

    Three TT's also present experienced damage to:
    - Helmet face shields: melted
    - Reflective Squares: crisped
    - The actual outer shells: blistered and warped
    Some had worse blistering than others.

    So I, too, question the numbers from the site provided. (Who wears a rubber-coated helmet?)

    A properly maintained leather helmet is safe. Deal with it. I would have no problem wearing a leather... just haven't gotten around to dropping my own cash on one.
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  2. #82
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    "Add a flammable product to my helmet",not smart.Ah,when I "touch" mine up I use Hi-temp enamel,which by the time it becomes flammable(1000F+)you've got a lot bigger issues to worry about.Part of "usual"care for a leather is pushing on the dome from time to time,if you find a "soft"spot return it to the mfg.Never found one yet but it's a valid test.I've had a myriad of "lids"over the years,my current N6 will be my last.Yes,a leather will last MOST ff's their entire career IF they take care of it and are using a reasonable amount of intelligence in day to day activities.If you don't like leather; wear plastic,it's nothing to me.I've known a lot of "jakes"who have worn leather all their years and their necks still work.And it will make a nice mantlepiece upon retirement,a reminder of all the good times(and bad)that this job has brought me.Times are a-changing and not always for the better.My "Central"house used to be 75 strong,now the same job's being done with 25.And the median age is creeping up,less young bulls entering the trade.And tradition isn't a four letter word,'though some here like to try to make it so.Over the history of the American Fire Service only a few things haven't changed:Smoothbore nozzles,2.5 hose,and Leather helmets.The choice is yours,choose wisely. T.C.

  3. #83
    Protective Economist Jonathan Bastian's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Rescue101
    Part of "usual"care for a leather is pushing on the dome from time to time,if you find a "soft"spot return it to the mfg.Never found one yet but it's a valid test.I've had a myriad of "lids"over the years,my current N6 will be my last.Yes,a leather will last MOST ff's their entire career IF they take care of it and are using a reasonable amount of intelligence in day to day activities.If you don't like leather; wear plastic,it's nothing to me.I've known a lot of "jakes"who have worn leather all their years and their necks still work.
    Everyone keeps using the APPEARANCE of a leather helmet as justification for its INTEGRITY. A fiberglass helmet (and for that matter, the fiberglass liner in a leather helmet) degrades with heat exposure, but does not change shape or give any indication it is weaker. A fiberglass helmet (or liner) can LOOK just fine, but actually be bent by hand or punctured by a light hammer strike. I have seen it and done it. As several have pointed out, the fiberglass LINER of the leather helmet actually provides MOST of the impact resistance.

    You don't have to take my word for it: ASK Cairns/MSA to put IN WRITING how long a leather helmet will last with cosmetic repairs (keeping it painted). My gut tells me they will NOT say "your whole career" because they know the impact cap degrades with exposures.

    If they do, I am willing to admit I was wrong...but I don't expect it.
    My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).

  4. #84
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    JB,Been a while since I studied the "destructions" on my leather but the directions read like:keep it clean,don't expose it to extreme temps(as in standing up in the burn room)Etc.The instructions are basically the same as any other lid.As far as the impact cap goes,it's protected by the leather so I wouldn't expect to see the same degradation that you would on TT where it's part of the helmet shell.I do know that part of a leathers inspection process involves checking the dome areas for discolored/soft spots.If you find one(soft spot)the helmets history.But I don't think you can compare TT to leather unless you compare them in the same areas,and I believe under harsh conditions the leather will protect you longer that composites.But leather is expensive and requires care to keep it in top form,these two items alone will disqualify it from some depts lists.Like anything else you can find test results to say whatever you want to hear.So it still comes down to personal or Dept. preference. T.C.

  5. #85
    Firefighter/EMT-Basic FFEMTMILLER's Avatar
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    A question to the leather lovers, forget the TT and esp. CALFFBOU who needs to keep his *** at a desk in california and outta the west coast.....you were the most desperate poster on FH.......back to the question, have leather boots/suspenders/radiostrap/ and need a new LEATHER HELMET,,,,Looking at couple what are the advantages/disadvantages and the overall comfort (N5A/N6A/Paul Conway etc.....) NOT INCLUDING COST.....Thanks Kman

  6. #86
    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    Originally posted by FFEMTMILLER
    have leather boots/suspenders/radiostrap/
    damn, you have leather suspenders? why on earth would you do that? upgrade to the elastic ones, you'll be much more commfy.

    not for nothing, but I have a N6A (Dept issue). and I have a PC american classic (my personal backup helmet). and my new dept has a Cairns 1000 (dept issue). i don't think i'd pay for a leather unless i had an extra 500 lying around.

    don't get me wrong, I like my N6A, but when I was going through FF2, my PC was more comfortable to wear (i switched off different days different helmet to see which was more comfy). and some of the old timers were going to traditional style plastic and away from leather.

    but to each his own, i guess
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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  7. #87
    MembersZone Subscriber SamsonFCDES's Avatar
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    Originally posted by FFEMTMILLER
    A question to the leather lovers, forget the TT and esp. CALFFBOU who needs to keep his *** at a desk in california and outta the west coast.....you were the most desperate poster on FH.......back to the question, have leather boots/suspenders/radiostrap/ and need a new LEATHER HELMET,,,,Looking at couple what are the advantages/disadvantages and the overall comfort (N5A/N6A/Paul Conway etc.....) NOT INCLUDING COST.....Thanks Kman
    California is on the west coast.

    If Bou is at his desk in California, where you say he needs to be, then in essence he will be on the West Coast.

    Therefor your suggestion is a contradiction as your assement of TT vs. leather is a desperate atempt to make Bou look desperate for the assement of synthetic PPE.

    Given your view of leather being the supreme PPE Material then perhapse you can explain to the forum why the outer shell of turnout gear is not made from leather.
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  8. #88
    MembersZone Subscriber jfTL41's Avatar
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    Took awhile to catch up with all the reading.
    Perhaps the reason Houston pitches the Ben 2's the same reason FDNY does, perhaps someone entered into a sole source agreement with Total Fire Group and has to use whatever they make. Jsut like the Morning pride goalie pants they shoved on engine guys and probies in NYC, came from Houston, even after Houston said they were no good and caused burns. Hmmm?

  9. #89
    Firefighter/EMT-Basic FFEMTMILLER's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Leather Suspenders last a thousand times longer, they quickly distinguish my gear and personally the bulldog suspenders are more comfortable then the elastics........As for the brainiac's remark about why running coats arent leather last time I checked your helmet isnt nomex or pbi, just the flaps same as mine...Think b4 you speak


    "Real firefighters fight fires not desks."

  10. #90
    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Default LOL...

    Originally posted by FFEMTMILLER
    A question to the leather lovers, forget the TT and esp. CALFFBOU who needs to keep his *** at a desk in california and outta the west coast.....you were the most desperate poster on FH....
    I have to admit, that posting was funny. Karma is pretty funny
    too. As for me riding a desk, I dont, but if I did, it would
    be for the progress of the fire service as a whole.

    FFEMTMILLER, I see you have a whopping 4 postings, hope that
    isnt a troll in the making.

    SamsonFCDES- Youre a true brother. Thanks for the backing!

    Lastly, when are we switching to leather fire hose?

    -Bou
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 01-08-2005 at 02:32 PM.

  11. #91
    Firefighter/EMT-Basic FFEMTMILLER's Avatar
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    First leather running coats now leather fire hose, its getting pretty old.Apples and oranges again....come on you guys cant honestly believe half of what is being typed by your hands, last time I check we dont use fire hose for PPE, remember you are only effective when you are "somewhat" comfortable, hence why you do a lot of burns in the academy to begin to adjust your comfort level so you dont suck down air and hands down Leather is more comfortable. Tradition included and now aside, i prefer leather, any true truckie would agree with me; CAL have you ever tried to cut a vert vent hole on the side of peaked roof wearing rubber boots? (been there and damn near fell off) you do not have the mobility.....OHH AND AS FOR THE FOUR POSTS, UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE IM BUSY DOING REAL WORK NOT SITTING AT A DESK AND POSTING ALL DAY.

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  12. #92
    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Default Yo...

    Originally posted by FFEMTMILLER
    any true truckie would agree with me; CAL have you ever tried to cut a vert vent hole on the side of peaked roof wearing rubber boots? (been there and damn near fell off) you do not have the mobility.....OHH AND AS FOR THE FOUR POSTS, UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE IM BUSY DOING REAL WORK NOT SITTING AT A DESK AND POSTING ALL DAY.
    Hmmm...I have several answers for you.

    YES, I was just up on a roof cutting a hole with MY truck
    company in my LEATHER boots. If you need proof, I can get
    the Telestaff manning report anlong with the incident
    report from my FD to show I was on the truck that December
    day.

    YES, I own and have rubber structure boots as well. (in
    reserve)

    YES, I have a desk, it is call the "tillerman's box" on my
    aerial truck. It even has a steering wheel. (incert
    sarcasium here) Does that make me a "real truckie"?

    In fact, here is an old picture of me at my desk wearing TT
    and LEATHER gloves. (right side) No problems and no failures.
    (except the structure)

    -Bou



    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 01-08-2005 at 03:31 PM.

  13. #93
    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    Originally posted by FFEMTMILLER
    hands down Leather is more comfortable.
    my original response:
    Originally posted by DrParasite

    don't get me wrong, I like my N6A, but when I was going through FF2, my Paul Conway Plastic was more comfortable to wear (i switched off different days different helmet to see which was more comfy).
    as I said before, to each his own.

    I will say that I think leather is more protective, and will last longer, but from a comfort and weight issue, I need to go with my plastic on that one.

    oh, and I have leather boots, and once they get broken in (which can take a while), they are much more comfortable (and supposedly lighter) than rubber ones.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

  14. #94
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    looks like someone isnt going to last to long here ........GG
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  15. #95
    Forum Member jerrygarcia's Avatar
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    I wear leather. I wear leather by choice. Boots and helmet. Do not talk to me like I am a child, I am not.

    I have been through my rubber boots, Black Diamonds were my favorite until I wore leathers. I wore an 880 helmet as issued by my department until it was useless, 2 years. I have a 1010 in my locker, will never wear it. I wear an N6A. I retired an N5A last year due to wear.

    You have your silly debate about TT and leather, I do not care. You're wasting your breath if you are trying to talk a leatherhead into TT or visa versa. The other simply does not care.

    Just taking a wild guess, I bet I go into more fires in a year than most of you will see in a career.

    I do not paint my helmet, nor do not see it as a fire hazard for those leatherheads that do repaint. My gas grill did not catch on fire after I repainted it, nor did the paint on the walls of the fires I've been to burst into flames. That is a ridiculous statement.

    I have seen TT 'break' from impact and never seen leather 'break'.

    I have retired a leather and know when to. If you're worried about heat and exposure, maybe you're in the wrong business.

    If you don't know the difference between wisdom and wacker or don't care if you're a wacker, you need to find a better hobby if that's what you think this is all about.

    I live my life with my brothers, bottom line. Whatever they choose to wear, I will make sure that they go home to their familes in the morning or die with them. Firemen don't die alone.





    Last edited by jerrygarcia; 01-09-2005 at 01:48 AM.

  16. #96
    Forum Member jerrygarcia's Avatar
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    Originally posted by SamsonFCDES
    Try this with your leather helmet...

    I took and old bullard firedome that nobody loved anymore...

    I then took a TNT multi tool, 8 pounds...

    I then applied the sharp side of the head of the TNT to the bullard (sitting on the driveway) with all the force I could muster...

    A small slit appeard in the bullard with <.25 inches of penetraition by the TNT axe head...

    Now try that with you leather helmet and let me know what you find out.

    If leather was supperior impact/pentraition protection then dont you think that ballistic vests would be made of leather instead of stuff like Kevlar and plastics...?
    I take it you work on a Pumper, not a Truck.

  17. #97
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    Default Comfort

    To answer the question on comfort.

    I find that leather boots are more comfortable then the rubber ones. I spent 9 years in rubber boots and last year for a birthday gift I received a pair of leather bunker boots (pull on). The comfort level increase greatly. I had the previous pair of rubber boots for a good 6 years, and they are my back up. I kept them in shape.

    As for leather helmets I don't have one anymore. It was lost in transit from one state to another. But in the sense I rather have a traditional style helmet over the others. My department issues bollard helmets, i tried it for a little bit. But during a firefighter survival class the helmet kept falling off. I did have the chine strap and rachett tight. I got mad and got my traditional, never had trouble the rest of the day. But when I did have a leather it was very comfortable, and I didn't wear it because I wanted to look good. My department issued the 880's I got a leather as a gift, and loved it. But I can not afford a leather now because of the cost.

    On another note, I tried the phenix leather helmet out at FDIC 2004. I would say it is the lightest and nicest leather I have seen and when the time comes to buy a new helmet I will look into them. But you gear is like a car. If you don't keep the oil change and etc up it will fall apart. I have seen leather in need of replacement, but also seen the pleather too. It is really a matter of choice of comfort. And last but not least, my BEN PLUS 2 is about the same weight as a leather new yorker. I have neck and back problems and never had trouble with the wieght.
    Thanks
    DM
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  18. #98
    Firefighter/EMT-Basic FFEMTMILLER's Avatar
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    JG has got one of the best points.....You will never ever convince me that rubber or tt is better then leather, I will likewise I am sure I or no other FFs were convice the TTs otherwise as well. To each his own again. But I think we can all agree that those Fire Knight helmets are another thing just saw one yesterday, what the hell is that thing?

  19. #99
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    JG,"I see more fires in a year than most of you see in a career".Well,could be I suppose;but my "career"is going on 37 years and I kinda doubt you see THAT many fires a year.;'course you didn't fill out your profile real completely so it's gonna be kinda hard to really tell.I don't know why you guys keep trying to crack Bou's stones on TT vs Leather.He's not gonna change.Bottom line,end of story.Not to mention that agitating my esteemed colleague from the "left"coast is MY job. My take:you wear what you're issued or when permitted,what you feel the most comfortable in.In my case that's an N6A.Bou,I STILL want to see ya "surf"that desk you're riding,Hehe T.C.

  20. #100
    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Default LOVE IT!

    Originally posted by Rescue101
    I don't know why you guys keep trying to crack Bou's stones on TT vs Leather.He's not gonna change.Bottom line,end of story.Not to mention that agitating my esteemed colleague from the "left"coast is MY job. My take:you wear what you're issued or when permitted,what you feel the most comfortable in.In my case that's an N6A.Bou,I STILL want to see ya "surf"that desk you're riding,Hehe T.C.
    Great post, love it! I laughed out loud. As for the desk,
    I gues that is my new thing now? Surfing a desk? Oh well.

    Thanks for the good posting.

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