HISTORY OF THE FIRE HELMET

A short history of the development of the fire helmet

The original fire-fighters could be found in Ancient Rome, although the Egyptians had fire fighting apparatus about 200 years earlier. The fire engine was not invented until 1725, by Englishman Richard Newsham. The first municipal fire brigade was established in England in 1824. The original firemen wore a type of top hat. They worked for large insurance companies and only put out the fires that were insured against by their own company. The buildings had a plaque or badge on them making it easier for the firemen to identify.

Helmets started to appear in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and were made of leather. Jacobus Turk of New York is credited with creating the first leather helmets around 1740. The first brass helmets appeared in London during 1866, they were modeled after the helmets worn by armored French cavalry soldiers. After the use of electricity became more widespread, the problem with brass or nickel helmets was the potential for electrocution. These heavy and dangerous helmets were modified to incorporate a cork base. These were eventually replaced by modern composite materials – thermoplastic or fiberglass and more recently, carbon fiber. The latest designs incorporate breathing apparatus, communication devices, and headlamps.

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