1. #1
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    Cool Officer insignia on helmets or different color altogether?

    I was going through some old photo's of mine the other day and updating some album's (digital/35mm). I happened to notice various dept's that utilize frontpiece insignia for rank etc. ie. White frontpieces for officers and depending on the rank would have the classic NYC, Boston, Chicago, etc. inserts that represent various unit's with rank's etc. Many fire department's also use the color of the helmet to indicate rank etc. other than white for chief's (that's a given and hasn't seemed to change). Here is the question...Why different colored helmet's vs. different interchangeable frontpieces (depending on the helmet brand etc.). Is it because we NEED to see at a distance, enough red/blue,yellow,orange helmet's amidst a field of grunt's colored helmet's so we know the officer/firefighter ratio is okay, more color to identify the officer in a crummy environment (often can't tell anyway), to determine who should be listening to who and the color determines who you should turn to etc. I'm just curious as to YOUR opinion's and concept's etc. Sometimes it seem's that if you don't have a colored helmet, your seniority, experience etc. isn't necessary/needed/wanted...Just throwing this simplistic, probably useless question out there for something different...

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    I think that this has been addressed before.




    Try doing a search.
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    Department wide, we had different colored helmets for different positions. Then 1 company decided to go with different colored shields and all 1 color of helmet. The different colored helmets still allow us to get a quick view looking for certain members, the colored shields do nothing unless you are up close and they are facing you. Is it NEEDed? No, but it's an added convenience on the fire ground.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Wink I'm sure we addressed most everything at one point...

    Yes, it probably was addressed before. Are you going to knock down anyone that jumps on a thread and asks when/where/how to become a firefighter because it was a THREAD 3 years ago? Who cares if it's been addressed before. As long as someone enjoy's posting, let them post. The Fire Service has a constant influx of new people as the... eh hem...OLD TIMER'S prepare to leave...No need to post a comment about an old thread or revisited thread. How about directing someone to the old thread that was mentioned or whatever...?!

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    Some people love to remind others that there is a search feature. I guess they think it would be nice to have only about 15 threads that are each 600 pages long. You may notice, the Webteam, who actually runs the site, is never the ones to remind people to search...
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Well I think what the Captain was saying is that folks come in the forums and begin a new thread on something that has been talked and talked about for some 20 to 50 pages. I usually try doing a search on a subject before I begin a new thread. So that I donít get TRY A SEARCH thing.

    Needless to say, every fire department has different styles of helmets and they are of various colors, markings and etc.

    We have two colors of helmets. White and Yellow. White for Chief Officers and Yellow for every one else. We use the Cairns helmets and their marking system for the ID of the members wearing the helmet. Chief of the Department has a 5 trumpet insignia on the front of the helmet. Deputy Chiefs have 4 trumpet insignia, Assistant Chief has 3 trumpet insignia, Battalion Chiefs have two crossed trumpets, Captains have two vertical and Lieutenant have a single trumpet. The firefighter has the fire scramble on their helmets. All helmets have the company numbers on each side of the helmet. We normally do not have any problems seeing who is who. We have somewhere near 3000 members.

    You could have a different color helmet for every rank if you so choose. We decided that we didnít need that. Of system works well for us.
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    Doesn't matter what you put on the head of an idiot, theyre still an idiot. Same goes for true leaders, they could wear a pink hat and people would still stick with them and follow their lead.

    Personal opinion...Everyone wears black (our FF's color) except for chiefs. Officers get a white front or the respective rocker decals (if youre unlucky enough to wear a salad bowl )

    When you are no longer popular enough to be an officer or if you go up/down a rank; who wants to share helmets? I can't imagine getting your lid all salted up and passing it on to young buck the new Lieutenant the next year. I like the idea of getting your lid on your first day and keeping it til you retire, unless you become a Chief. Don't wash them off either, every bit of dirt you earn represents an expierence you had that creates a unique identity and shows you are doing the job...helmets need to show a little character. Call me old fashioned.

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    We have both over here (Colour & Insignia)...Yellow from Fm to Sub Officer (Lt) with varying stripes then White with varying number & Thickness of stripe from Station Officer (Capt) up to Chief Fire Officer (Chief of Dept) These are nationally agreed and recognised rank marking for the Helmets. Shoulder marking for uniform are different again, following similar patters to the UK Military... Some Brigades also wear then Rank on the Fire coat but we don't in London.

    This page from Strathclyde Fire Brigade in Scotland shows them all on one page.
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    the helmet front tells the tale....

    Firefighters black lids with black fronts
    Officers black lids with white fronts
    Chiefs have white lids with gold fronts

    Our lids are a mix of tactical tupperware, traditional looking pleather (depending on the Chief who made the initial purchase) and for those who are willing to dip into their uniform allowance for the upgrade....

    Leather, baby!
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 11-07-2005 at 08:38 PM.
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    At our dept :

    (All leathers)

    Chief/ Asst Chief- White
    Capts/Lts- Yellow
    FF's- Black
    Safety- Orange (in safety officers vehicle)



    Explorer Post:

    (salad bowls)

    Capts/Lt's - Black
    Exps- Yellow or Red
    Last edited by backsteprescue; 11-08-2005 at 08:49 PM.
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    In our dept.: (About 85-90% still use salad bowls )

    All Chiefs.................White helmets

    All Capts.................Yellow helmets

    All Lt's....................Red helmets

    All D/O's and F/F's.....Black helmets




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    We are as follows
    Chiefs - white
    Lieu - red
    FF - yellow

    I do wish we(FF) went to black helmet.

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    All officers -> white with cresent denoting rank
    Safety, training-> red
    FF's-> Bu-lack!

    Very simple and works well for us.
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    keeping it til you retire
    SAY ITS NOT SO!!!
    Helmets have much shorter careers than us. They are supposed to be retired after 4-5 years because of fatigue. What good is a helmet that has seen too much sun?!

    I know it seems like a cool idea, and i know that you can get attached to your helmet, but would you go into a burning building with a 120 year old work mate?
    "There are only two things that i know are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And im not so sure about the former."

    For all the life of me, i cant see a firefighter going to hell. At least not for very long. We would end up putting out all the fires and annoying the devil too much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PattyV
    SAY ITS NOT SO!!!
    Helmets have much shorter careers than us. They are supposed to be retired after 4-5 years because of fatigue. What good is a helmet that has seen too much sun?!
    Not trying to hijack the thread but....

    You are refering to Plastic Helmets. At that rate one would need 4-5 Helmets throughout ones career. Leather Helmets if properly taken care of and depending on how much use they see will last a guys entire career. At worst case a guy might go through 2 lids during a career. Certainly not every 4 years.

    FTM-PTB

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    We Run the Following:

    Chiefs - White Helmets/White Shields
    Officers - Black Hemets/ White Shields
    FF's - Black Helmets/ Black Shields
    Probies-Black Helmets/ Green Shields

    All of are officers currently have personal Leather lids.

    I dont expect to be around for 120 yrs, but my leather will go down when I do.
    2 of our operators with 40 + years of service still wear their original leather, try telling them they have to wear plastic!

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    We use colors and title rockers.

    Department insignia on the front

    Probie FF's have black with FF/EMT or FF/paramedic rockers
    Regular FFs have yellow with the same rockers
    Lts have red with rank rockers
    Capts up have white with rank rockers

    Oh, medics also have a little blue star of life on each side.
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

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    NFPA advises you should retire the helmet after 4-5 years. Why? Who is on the committee you might ask? Could it be some manufacturers?

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    White - Chief officers
    Red - Captains and Lieutenants
    Black - Firefighter
    Black w/ orange tetrahydrons - Juniors

    Our fronts for officers are white, for appointed position(chief engineer, medical officer, etc.) they're red.
    "Captain 1 to control, retone this as a structure and notify the fire chief...."

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    Our officers used to wear white helmets and everyone else wore red for certified firefighters and blue for probies/uncertified rookies.
    Now,we are going to the idea that the Chief and Assistant chief are the only white hats and everyone else in either red or blue old fashioned helmets with the frontpiece showing the department name,the member's engine number and rank with their department number on the side.
    I think the idea of different colored lids is a good idea,just like it is on an aircraft carrier(aka bird farm or bomb magnet)where you need to tell an arresting gear guy(greenie) from a plane captain(brown)or a fueler(purple) from an ordie(red).
    Last edited by doughesson; 11-08-2005 at 02:00 PM.

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    My experience or lack thereof shows whenever I climb off the rig and what I do following the orders given by the IC and my company officer.My turnouts are hand me downs,like a lot of volunteers,but they are as clean as hosing off at the end of the call can make them(we're just now getting a washer/extractor in our new station)and they have no holes in them to keep me untoasted.
    Since we also have to put on our company faces once in a while,gear should be kept clean and ready to go when the tones drop,not looking like you just spent a few minutes wallering in a manure pile.
    It doesn't have to look like it just came out of the box from Gall's but neither should it be so dirty that flies stay away from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by MG3610
    Don't wash them off either, every bit of dirt you earn represents an expierence you had that creates a unique identity and shows you are doing the job...helmets need to show a little character. Call me old fashioned.

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    Salman1,

    I must say this is an excellent post and truely shows some insight and deeper thought into the job and how it works.

    From my personal experience I have seen many different methods, different color helmets, names, stickers, company inserts...etc.

    I have to say much of the fronts out there today wouldn't be there if it weren't for ignorant chiefs who never gave much thought to the importance of company identification.

    (This also happens to be one reason I never liked the NFPA faceshields as they obscured the front piece.)

    Anyhow some of the really bad ideas I've seen or worn. (my opionion based on my experience only.)

    -I've seen a career department (approx 10 companies 120 members) where the large numbers were the badge numbers. That could mean that the members of Engine Co. 3 had the numbers of 35, 112, 68 & 56 for that tour. Now I have nothing wrong with having the badge numbers on the front, however they shouldn't be the main thing...everyone at the fire has a different number and one would have to remember everyones number to know who they were looking at in a fire! My bage number was printed on the bottom in white by cairns at the factory however the main number is my Engine Co. number.

    I formerly worked in a dept that as I came on had the company Number afixed in an insert pannel, and is traditional manner in many places the black meant Engine and Red meant Ladder. Although many guys never really paid attention to detail and didn't realize that until I mentioned it.

    The helmets were black for firemen, Red for officers, White for Chiefs. However the Red helmets of the officers ended up being mostly black from fires and the plastic white lids looked like Sh*t from turning yellow due to OV rays and a few fires. (White leathers don't turn yellow.)

    However after I got on they switched to a new front that had rank, my last name and a metal dept patch symbol in the middle. Besides the fact that my face shield blocked anyone from easily seeing my front piece, after a few good jobs...the damn thing was shot. You could only read it close up. It was hard to make out the names and in a situation where the officer needed to determine if members bailing out of a fire were his guys...it would have been more than difficult to accomplish this in a quick manner.

    I've also worked in a department that had no front...only the last name plastered accross the side of the metro helmet. Not really effective in knowing what company they are with at a job.

    I honestly prefer the following:
    -Black helmets for firemen and company officers.
    -Inserts that have company numbers and colors that represent the type of company.(no need to put "E71" just a "71" with a color that represents Engines) The colors you choose don't have to be traditional...green could mean Engines and Blue could mean trucks...just so everyone knows the system.
    -Company officers are reveresed with a white front with the numbers in the color of thier company along bugles for Engines and Axes for ladders.
    -White Lids for Chiefs with Gold fronts.

    Great topic guys.

    FTM-PTB

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    Default Thanks for the pat...

    FFRED,
    I sincerely thing that the old school dept's like NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and similiar dept's have the helmet bit down well. FDNY has a great system utilizing rank, employee number, company designation (truck, engine, squad, boat etc.). I don't think they worry about the colors because the rank is on the front and the only time that is important is when your face to face. I don't think they need to have anything otherwise. We follow a similiar method but because we change co's and fill in in others we use the traditional frontpieces with the "passport" system where the color/company is used but can be removed. I've included a picture. Incidentally, the Lt. in the picture with me is Paul Walsh of New Britain Fire Dept. here in Connecticut. He's been a long time friend of mine and also an artist. His work is very popular and can be seen at the following site...www.walshprints.com Anyway, here is two example of traditional helmets with different front pieces etc. We also use a completely white frontpiece for Lt's...
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    We use "tactical tupperware" helmets, colored by rank with shields and rocker decals.

    White- Chief and Assistant Chiefs
    Black- Captains
    Blue- EMS Captain
    Green- Safety
    Yellow- Firefighters

    Rocker decals indicate Firefighter, Firefighter/EMT and Firefighter/Paramedic
    EMS have Star of Life decals on both sides

    Shields indicate Department, Staff Number (each member is assigned a number), and Rank (i.e. Chief, Captain, Firefighter...etc)

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    I like the following system:
    Chiefs- white helmets and white or gold shields
    Capts/Lts- red helmets with white shields (with appropirate bugles/axes/etc for rank)
    FF- black helmets with black shields (if you run dedicated companies, black for engine, red for truck, blue for rescue/squad)
    probies/interior certified- black helmets with yellow shields
    probies/non-interior - yellow helmets with yellow shields

    in bigger departments, having the apparatus number might might sense on the shield (provided you don't bounce between companies or ride a different piece for OT), but for smaller departments (ie, less than 5 houses), I think having the department name on them would be more valuable. especially when you are dealing with mutual aid calls, so other places know who you are.

    plus, having different color helmets allow you to make a quick glance and just by seeing the color the helmet, you know who is a proby, who is a FF, and who is an officer.
    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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