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

  1. #101
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Thumbs up left coastie is my bro

    Bou,
    Mini-Me or not .............I got your back..........you like Phenix lids I like a 1010 and not opposed to leather .........
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115


  2. #102
    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Default Re: left coastie is my bro

    Originally posted by Weruj1
    Bou,
    Mini-Me or not .............I got your back..........you like Phenix lids I like a 1010 and not opposed to leather .........
    Thanks bro. Hugs!

    PS- Mini-Me is not our friend.

  3. #103
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    Rehasing an old topic.
    Why do many of these Cali guys always bash these leather helmets. If you go to San Fran or Sacramento you will see leather lids in many of the houses. There are many places in Cali that still use them. So now what??

  4. #104
    Leather Forever Sgnl50's Avatar
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    I'll keep this simple and straight to the point. If you take care of your leather helmet it will take care of you. Keep paint on it, keep the fire grime to a minimum and dont use your lid as a way to break windows. Any helmet that is exposed to wear and tear without a little tlc now and again wont last.

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  5. #105
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo'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.
    Tim, my Brother..

    The soft spot is usually found "inside" the lid... it's the wearer's head!
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  6. #106
    Forum Member 33motor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrParasite
    here's a question that i'm sure has been posted before, but not in this exact way.

    one of my FF2 instructors (who is a career FF with 25 yrs on his dept, a career Lt, and the dept's training officer) told me that when he tried to get his chief to purchase leather helmets for his department, he used the arguement that leather helmets performed the best in the impact test. the chief's response was that the plastic ones (which i know really aren't plastic, but you know what i mean) passed the test too, so they were just as good. his response was that plastic ones passed the test, but only minimally, while the leathers held up much better.

    so here's my question. we all know that both leathers and plastics meet the NFPA requirements for helmet protection. my question is, to anyone who actually know the facts (as well as where they can be verified), did leather helmets actually do better on impact tests than plastics, even though both passed with what the NFPA wanted as a passing grade?
    It was my understanding (right or wrong) that the differences were as follows:

    Plastic, fiberglass .. whatever, was designed to disipate the force, or blow, of the object through the shell to protect the wearer. In doing so, it's designed to break apart to achieve this. This means that the plastic helmet is good for one "large blow" to the shell. This protects the user, and it is then deemed useless, and to be taken out of service.. but that's OK, because it's done it's job. Unless of course, the user is struck a second time before they are out of the fall zone. In which case, the user is at the mercy of fate, as their helmet is going to provide minimal protection in it's "shattered" condition.

    It was my understanding that leather is able to absorbe repeated blows to the shell, while still maintaining it's integrety. It should be inspected if it does suffer a large force blow, but is possible that it can be returned to service if it is deemed to still be structurely sound. Yet, even if it is compramised, the helmet may still offer a better level of protection than a plastic helmet would, if the user was struck by a second object.

    It was also my understanding that the only test that leather helmets did fail (not sure who conducted these tests, but it may have been a test done by the Navy) was the floatation test. Plastic helmets can be used to trap air underneath, so that they can be capable of keeping a person bouyant in water. The leather helmets, however, either leaked air through the stitching, or became "water logged" after a number of hours. This practice is used by removing the helmet, and pushing it down underwater, in front of the user, while keeping it under, with the arms locked straight down.

    So, take that for what it's worth. I've been in the fire service for many years and the discussion has come up here and there.. and these are the results I have taken from them. They are all "unofficial" as I have not seen these claims in writing as part of an official study. They are all just "hearsay" from various FF's I have worked with, or known along the way.

    As for myself, I would not trade in my N6A. However, when I used to wear metro's, and 1010's etc.. I had no problem with them. They have all served me well.. and I felt that the level of protection they offered was as good as it could be. I feel for the reasons stated above that my N6A provides a better level of protection.. proven or not. Either way, it's bound to provide at least as good, and I like carrying on the tradition of using a leather lid. For myself, it's also a bit of a moral booster. I look at it, like a pro golfer might look at his expensive set of clubs. It may be expensive, but I get a tinge of pride feeling that I have a good piece of equipment to perform my job with. Sure, cheaper versions could substitute, but I want to know that I have the best, and I feel that I do... and, I'm in good company, as many a brother FF will tell you they feel the same way.
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  7. #107
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    Leather is the only make of helmet that you can put a Bronx Bend in.

  8. #108
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    Quote Originally Posted by nwvfd93
    Leather is the only make of helmet that you can put a Bronx Bend in.
    REALLY >? I was hopin to melt the brim of my 1010 !
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Exclamation What type

    I don't think the question is if it is leather or composite/fiberglass....It should be who makes the best helmet overall!!!!!

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    Is there any one awake here????

  11. #111
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    nwvfd93............are you an officer

  12. #112
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    No, I'm not an officer. I have a ways to go. I was just being smart, my Dept uses TT's unfortunately. It would be nice for everyone to wear leathers, but in some ways I feel leathers might be ornamental, if you have the money to spare-of course, get one. There are better ways for struggling departments to spend their money on like more rotorays and bells.

  13. #113
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    Gonzo,maybe in your world.Around here most of them are hard as flint.And just about as receptive to input,hehe T.C.

  14. #114
    Protective Economist Jonathan Bastian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33motor
    It was my understanding (right or wrong) that the differences were as follows:

    Plastic, fiberglass .. whatever, was designed to disipate the force, or blow, of the object through the shell to protect the wearer. In doing so, it's designed to break apart to achieve this. This means that the plastic helmet is good for one "large blow" to the shell. This protects the user, and it is then deemed useless, and to be taken out of service.. but that's OK, because it's done it's job. Unless of course, the user is struck a second time before they are out of the fall zone. In which case, the user is at the mercy of fate, as their helmet is going to provide minimal protection in it's "shattered" condition.

    It was my understanding that leather is able to absorbe repeated blows to the shell, while still maintaining it's integrety. It should be inspected if it does suffer a large force blow, but is possible that it can be returned to service if it is deemed to still be structurely sound. Yet, even if it is compramised, the helmet may still offer a better level of protection than a plastic helmet would, if the user was struck by a second object.
    This is not accurate. You will notice in an NFPA-compliant leather helmet that there is a fiberglass dome inserted into the helmet. This is what provides penetration resistance; the leather shell provides heat and water resistance. Any helmet that takes a serious impact should be replaced. PERIOD. The fiberglass or plastic shell (interior or exterior) will have sustained damage that may or may not be visible. In addition, the strap/suspension system will have been stretched, making the whole system less safe for the next impact.

    NFPA fire helmet testing is destructive in nature. That means that each helmet has to survive only ONE test; it is not designed, nor expected, to pass 3 or 4 consecutive tests. Firefighters need to stop confusing appearance with performance! Replace your helmet when you replace your turnout gear.
    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).

  15. #115
    Forum Member 33motor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by firemanjb
    This is not accurate. You will notice in an NFPA-compliant leather helmet that there is a fiberglass dome inserted into the helmet. This is what provides penetration resistance; the leather shell provides heat and water resistance.
    I think the term you hunting for is impact cap, and they are made of foam, not fiberglass.. The impact cap is not the only structural part of the helmet that provides impact resistance. So, you're wrong about that part. The shell is designed to do so, along with the cap.

    Yes, anytime a helmet receives a hard blow, it should be inspected, and more often than not removed from service. However, even Cairns will tell you that if the fiberglass shell is damaged, and the area is smaller than 1" it can be repaired. So, no, not all helmets are useless after an impact.

    As for testing, yes .. one hit in the test.. but that's a test, and this is the real world. I guess no one ever gets hit twice in the real world..
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  16. #116
    Protective Economist Jonathan Bastian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33motor
    I think the term you hunting for is impact cap, and they are made of foam, not fiberglass.. The impact cap is not the only structural part of the helmet that provides impact resistance. So, you're wrong about that part. The shell is designed to do so, along with the cap.

    Yes, anytime a helmet receives a hard blow, it should be inspected, and more often than not removed from service. However, even Cairns will tell you that if the fiberglass shell is damaged, and the area is smaller than 1" it can be repaired. So, no, not all helmets are useless after an impact.

    As for testing, yes .. one hit in the test.. but that's a test, and this is the real world. I guess no one ever gets hit twice in the real world..
    The foam impact cap is inside a Bullard or Cairns fiberglass traditional helmet. It provides the impact resistance, as you state. A Cairns leather helmet has a fiberglass dome inside (at least all the leather helmets I have owned)...I guess you could call it an impact cap, but as you note, most people think of the impact cap as foam, so....semantics, maybe?

    I have never asked Cairns, but I do know that if you called us and said, "Hey, my fiberglass traditional helmet has a 1" impact crack in the shell" that we would say, "Replace it." As for getting hit twice...once the first brick falls on your head, why would you stand around and wait for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th?

    Yet again, appearance is being confused with performance. Leather is attractive, it is traditional and it appears to last longer...it does not mean that it does last longer. I am not against leather...I just think that it is dangerous to expect a leather helmet (or any helmet) to last a career (or 1/2 a career).
    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).

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    Quote Originally Posted by firemanjb
    Yet again, appearance is being confused with performance. Leather is attractive, it is traditional and it appears to last longer...it does not mean that it does last longer. I am not against leather...I just think that it is dangerous to expect a leather helmet (or any helmet) to last a career (or 1/2 a career).
    It has nothing to do with appearance. You(or your department) apparently has little expereince with leather helmets. When taken care of properly they do provide effective protection for 10-20+ years depending on use.

    Of all the guys in my house we have guys with 10-20 and until recently 30 years who had leather helmets, all had seen a fair share of fire...and they all were in better shape than countless plastic ones worn by guys with 1-3 years on the job. Never heard of a leather being condemed in less than 5 years.(Outside the rare manufactures defect which affects all helmets)

    The safety record of the New Yorker was remarkably unblemished and is to this day in NY.(this includes the time before the manufacts, 3M, and OSHA/NFPA got involved) The only reason we switched was bureacratic cost cutting...the plastic helmet had been around for decades and the city even during the war years didn't switch over...hmmm why?

    I'll give you the deed to the Brooklyn Bridge if you can cite the LODD that is the basis for the NFPA penetration test....hint there isn't one...it was a test devised to make the Leather, as it was, fail a supposed "real world" test.

    For you to make the claim in these forums that is dangerous to use the same helmet (leather or otherwise) for more than 1-2 years as a rule(when you get new gear) is laughable at best.

    Your comments and view flies in the face of common knowledge, experience and history. Get into the job and do some research...you will discover your argument doesn't hold much water.

    FTM-PTB

  18. #118
    Protective Economist Jonathan Bastian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FFFRED
    It has nothing to do with appearance. You(or your department) apparently has little expereince with leather helmets. When taken care of properly they do provide effective protection for 10-20+ years depending on use.

    Of all the guys in my house we have guys with 10-20 and until recently 30 years who had leather helmets, all had seen a fair share of fire...and they all were in better shape than countless plastic ones worn by guys with 1-3 years on the job. Never heard of a leather being condemed in less than 5 years.(Outside the rare manufactures defect which affects all helmets)

    The safety record of the New Yorker was remarkably unblemished and is to this day in NY.(this includes the time before the manufacts, 3M, and OSHA/NFPA got involved) The only reason we switched was bureacratic cost cutting...the plastic helmet had been around for decades and the city even during the war years didn't switch over...hmmm why?

    I'll give you the deed to the Brooklyn Bridge if you can cite the LODD that is the basis for the NFPA penetration test....hint there isn't one...it was a test devised to make the Leather, as it was, fail a supposed "real world" test.

    For you to make the claim in these forums that is dangerous to use the same helmet (leather or otherwise) for more than 1-2 years as a rule(when you get new gear) is laughable at best.

    Your comments and view flies in the face of common knowledge, experience and history. Get into the job and do some research...you will discover your argument doesn't hold much water.

    FTM-PTB
    So, are you angry with NFPA or angry with me? I don't write the NFPA standards, but I am familiar with them. I also don't know why NFPA included the tests they chose, but I do know that the fire service (including YOU) has a chance to be on the technical committee, as well as to offer comments on proposed tests and vote on the proposed document.

    The facts are the facts: a leather helmet that withstands the same testing regimen as a plastic or fiberglass helmet weighs more; excessive weight causes spinal column problems; fiberglass (the material inserted in a leather helmet to provide significant impact protection) degrades when exposed to heat.

    You want experience, look at your FDNY. Where did the Bronx Bend get its name? How is it made? I may be wrong (yes, I can admit it), but isn't it by heating and dampening the leather, making it more pliable? Don't fire helmets get hot and damp in fires? If it is more pliable, might it be possible that it provides a little less impact protection than a material that is not as adversely affected by heat and water?

    Fred, I am not against leather helmets. I love the look and the tradition. Firemen keep ALL helmets too long, not just leather. As I mentioned, fiberglass degrades in heat, but it does not deform in the process. As a result, a firefighter can have a severely compromised helmet that "appears" fine. That is what I keep emphasizing...appearance cannot be confused with performance.

    And if you are replacing turnouts every 5 years, what would be so wrong with replacing your helmet as well? Why bet your head and brain on whether or not there is another 5 or 10 years of life in the helmet?

    As for LODD issues, the number 1 killer is cardiovascular events. Yet few FDs ban tobacco use or have a mandatory annual PT requirement to ensure that members are in top condition. If you want to impact LODDs, then you should be working to ban smoking, obesity and laziness in the fire service...not criticizing fire helmet materials.
    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).

  19. #119
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    Bronx Bends.................yeah!

  20. #120
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    As for LODD issues, the number 1 killer is cardiovascular events. Yet few FDs ban tobacco use or have a mandatory annual PT requirement to ensure that members are in top condition. If you want to impact LODDs, then you should be working to ban smoking, obesity and laziness in the fire service...not criticizing fire helmet materials.
    Actually, NYC is basically the exact opposite. Most of our deaths (not even including 9/11) have come violently in fires or emergencies. Less that 15% (Pretty sure about that number, but have to check again) of FDNY LODDs have been cardiovascular related. And we do have annual medical evaluations, and in fact, because of group changes and the like, I have had 3 medicals within the last 13 months. So Fred is not off base at all, and his criticism of what he feels are inferior helmets, are not based on some hatred for plastic, as some here have implied.
    Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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