Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue tries sleek new helmets

It looks more like a motorcycle helmet, is lighter weight, offers a reduced profile and improved balance.

But there’s one barrier standing in the way of the new firefighting helmets that Central Whidbey Fire &Rescue firefighters recently unpacked from boxes.

Tradition.

“The iconic American firefighter with the traditional-style helmet is kind of an identity thing,” said Central Whidbey Fire Chief Ed Hartin.

But Hartin decided to buck tradition and give the new European-style helmets a try anyway.

He ordered 10 of the Rosenbauer Heros-titan helmets to explore them on a trial but had to wait for more than a year before they got the official stamp of approval by the National Fire Protection Association for use in the United States.

The boxes arrived earlier this month. Central Whidbey Fire &Rescue is the only fire district on Whidbey Island using them and likely the only department in the state of Washington, Hartin said.

“We’re pretty excited to have the first batch,” Capt. Jerry Helm said. “These net serial numbers on the helmets are in the hundreds.”

It’s all part of a pilot program. Hartin had used them before while instructing in Europe and figured the timing was right because many of the department’s traditional helmets are nearing the end of their service cycle.

“We’re trading image and looks for form and function,” Helm said.

Those trying out the helmets will be required to do monthly surveys, weighing in on everything from their performance measures, weight, fit and comfort.

“At the end of 90 days, we’ll make a decision,” Hartin said. “We have a number of helmets that in the next year will reach the end of their lives, so we need to replace them. This is kind of a quick and dirty pilot test to see what’s the member’s perception. Thus far, the feedback has been pretty good.”

Yet, it’s a stark departure from the long-brimmed traditional helmet that features a larger face shield and ear flaps.

The new model has a smoother profile with protection provided lower on the sides of the head and a fabric neck curtain in the rear to interface with the collar of the turnout coat, Hartin said.

Helm likes how well he can maneuver with the new helmet, which weighs about 2.8 pounds compared to the 3.75 pounds of the traditional helmet.

This is the second European-style model that has met NFPA approval, but the first one couldn’t break American firefighter tradition and fizzled out.

“I would have been for this seven years ago but I know what firefighters wear on their heads is a really big deal,” Hartin said.

More in News

Screaming monkey | Island Scanner

The following items were selected from reports made to the Island County… Continue reading

It’s all in the family

‘They end up getting all of us, even though they saw only one of us’

Hannold, St. Clair face off for District 3 seat

Island County commissioner candidate Janet St. Clair said that if elected, she’ll… Continue reading

Town to decide 2 percent grants

The Town of Coupeville is in the process of deciding which nonprofits… Continue reading

County commissioners to focus on economic development

Having recently adopted a major update to the housing element, Island County… Continue reading

Shifty Sailors celebrating 25th anniversary

The maritime-themed musical group Shifty Sailors will celebrate their 25th anniversary with… Continue reading

State seeks input for civilian-military compatibility plan

Washington State Department of Commerce says it is drafting a Washington State… Continue reading

DNA leads to charges against burglary suspect

DNA evidence led to a criminal charge being filed against a man… Continue reading

Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News Group.
                                <em>Cornet Bay Company owners Arnie and Joanne Deckwa stand with their new seafood line of sauces. In the background, painted on their RV is the company’s logo depicting Cornet Bay, the view across from their office.</em>
Walmart picks up Cornet Bay Co.’s sauces

Though it’s been producing and selling gourmet sauces, dressing, seasonings and dips… Continue reading

Most Read