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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

The firefighting helmet we've been dreaming about

The helmet profiled in this story demonstrates what contemporary technology can offer the fire and emergency services

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: A Swedish designer — with the backing of a local fire brigade — has unveiled an ambitious prototype called the C-Thru Smoke Diving Helmet. Here's Chief Adam K. Thiel's thoughts. 

Wow! Here it is, the firefighting helmet many (but probably not all) of us have been dreaming about for a long time!

I don't know about you, but as someone who's been playing Xbox/Halo for years, I've always wondered when we were going to be able to experience some of the same gear (exoskeleton anyone)?

While it certainly appears to be a long way from commercialization and a firehouse near you, the helmet profiled in this story demonstrates what contemporary technology can offer the fire and emergency services.

Our military has been experimenting for a long time with similar items, and you'll see a lot of situational awareness aids incorporated in the basic kit of today's soldiers, sailors, air force personnel and Marines.

The big questions are:
1) Will we be able to afford it
2) will we accept it?

These questions are different, but inextricably linked. To some extent, the degree to which we adopt a product will drive the cost; it's basic supply and demand, although the direction isn't always what you might expect given the level of competition in the marketplace for certain technologies.

Acceptance is really the bigger issue; and I get it. Yes, the "Pac-Man" helmets provide great impact protection and a lower profile than traditional helmets; what do I wear? (Guilty — traditional.)

But maybe "3-D wireframe" modeling and integrated thermal imaging is cool enough (and effective enough) to get us all onboard? Imagine the difference this helmet could make while searching for a fire victim; or a fallen brother/sister?

Now if they can just add a charred and flexible leather neckpiece...

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.


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