Helmet accessories: To add or not to add?
Put safety first when customizing your helmet
Your fire helmet is pretty important to you. Not only is it tasked with protecting protecting your head and face against impact, falling debris, heat and flames, but it’s also an important part of your identity.
Some firefighters wear helmets of a particular color to signify rank. Some add decals to make it more personal. Some add accessories, such as flashlights, to make it more job-specific. That’s all OK, as long as you have verified that the helmet still complies with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1971 Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting 2007 edition, thus ensuring your helmet is still able to perform its protective functions as it did upon leaving the manufacturing line.
Regarding all elements of protective ensembles for structural and proximity fire fighting, NFPA 1971 states that: “Emergency response organizations are cautioned that accessories are not a part of the certified product but could be attached to the certified product by a means not engineered, manufactured, or authorized by the manufacturer. Emergency response organizations are cautioned that if the accessory or its means of attachment causes the structural integrity of the certified product to be compromised, the certified product might not comply with the standard for which it was designed, manufactured, and marketed.
“Fire and emergency response organizations are cautioned that if the accessory or its means of attachment causes the structural integrity of the certified product to be compromised, the certified product might not comply with the standard for which it was designed, manufactured, and marketed. Additionally, if the accessory or its attachment means are not designed and manufactured from materials suitable for the hazardous environments of emergency incidents, the failure of the accessory or its attachment means could cause injury to the emergency responder.”
So, in a nutshell, if your helmet accessory is made of materials that aren’t suitable for firefighting environments, or if it requires you to alter the structure of the helmet, you should really think long and hard before attaching it. Your helmet’s job, first and foremost, is to protect you. Don’t do anything to jeopardize that by adding something that will diminish its protective qualities or level of performance.
For complete information on NFPA 1971, you can visit http://www.nfpa.org/aboutthecodes/AboutTheCodes.asp?DocNum=1971&cookie_test=1.