Wildland firefighters wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while doing their jobs to protect themselves from injuries and health concerns. Every item they put on serves a purpose, including the fire helmet. The design of each helmet must meet the NFPA requirements for wildland fire helmets so that firefighters know they are wearing the best possible PPE when they go out to fight fires. To understand more about wildland fire helmets and the requirements that the NFPA states, continue reading.
What Is the NFPA?
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is an international non-profit organization that focuses on the protection of others by finding ways to eliminate or diminish the effects of fires, such as economic loss, property loss, health concerns, injuries, and death.
The NFPA 1977 protects firefighters by establishing guidelines and requirements for all their personal protective equipment. Thanks to these standards, wildland and urban interface firefighters can feel confident in their clothing and gear as they go out to control wildfires.
The Purpose of the Wildland Firefighter’s Helmet
A firefighter’s helmet is similar to the hard hats seen on construction sites, but it boasts additional features to add necessary protection and a shape that is recognizable to all as a firefighter helmet. Let’s look further into what these protective features include.
Heat and Flame Resistant
Most modern helmets are made of thermoplastic, a polymer that easily softens while heating and remains strong after cooling. It’s an excellent material for firefighting helmets because of its ability to handle heat without losing any of its original properties once it cools back to a normal temperature.
Thermoplastic creates a hard shell to help protect wildland firefighters from falling trees, electrical lines, and other objects.
Radiant Heat Exposure Protection
Radiant heat exposure is heat that is felt and not seen. Fire creates intense heat that leads to injuries. A firefighter’s helmet must protect the user’s head from radiant heat exposure.
Suspension and Retention Systems
A protective helmet does no good if it doesn’t fit properly or stay on the head. The NFPA requires specific suspension and retention systems for wildland firefighting helmets to ensure they stay in place securely. The systems use the following:
- Six-point crown straps that help create a perfectly adjustable and secure fit
- Padding for impact absorption
- Chin straps are usually made of a material called NOMEX and help secure the helmet
- Quick-release features for easy removal and fast adjustments
Requirements for Retiring a Firefighting Helmet
Not only does the NFPA hold the industry to certain standards when designing firefighter helmets, but it also has standards for how long a helmet can do its job and when it should retire. The recommendation suggests not using a helmet for longer than 10 years, and that is only if there are no damages. Firefighter helmets require inspections for the following:
- Extreme wear
- Other damages
Once damaged, a helmet needs replacing.
The NFPA requirements for wildland firefighting helmets are put into place to protect firefighters and help them focus on their jobs. At The Supply Cache, we are proud to offer NFPA-approved wildland firefighting helmets and other protective gear for firefighters. Browse our catalog and contact us with any questions. We are here to serve you.