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Ditch the discomfort: This new firefighting helmet offers both protection and comfort

Bullard’s new UST-LW fire helmet solves multiple challenges with a sturdy, lightweight design that’s easily cleaned and decontaminated and comes with additional safety options

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The UST-LW helmet from Bullard is lightweight, protective and easy to clean and decontaminate.



By Robert Avsec for FireRescue1 BrandFocus

In San Francisco at the end of the 19th century (1898 to be exact), Edward Dickinson Bullard started a company that supplied essential equipment to gold and copper miners in the region.

When his son, E.W. Bullard, returned home after fighting in World War I, the younger Bullard began a relentless pursuit to understand the company’s customers and the problems they faced working in dangerous mines. That pursuit led to the invention of the first protective helmet designed for industry, the Hard Boiled “hard hat,” in 1919. (Its design paid homage to the doughboy army helmet that E.W. wore during his wartime service).

That same passion for innovative design and approach to problem solving represents the spirit of innovation and collaboration that’s the foundation of Bullard today. And the company has not stood still in those ensuing 123 years, as Bullard has become a leading manufacturer of high-quality personal protective equipment and systems in use by firefighters around the world. It continues that tradition with the introduction of its newest firefighter helmet, the Lightweight UST-LW Fire Helmet.

“Firefighters are some of the toughest people out there, and they need equipment just as tough as they are, to keep them safe while they’re in the line of duty,” said Wells Bullard, President and CEO of Bullard. “We are focused on protecting firefighters and helping them to go home safely at the end of their shift. Bullard’s new Lightweight UST-LW fire helmet offers firefighters a greater level of on-the-job comfort – while still giving them the high level of protection they need, and the traditional style they want.”

Ask most firefighters what element of the structural firefighting protective ensemble, aka, turnout gear, gives them the most “fits” and they’ll likely say, “My firefighting gloves.” But a close second would be their firefighter helmet. And keeping in mind that firefighters wear their helmet on every call for service they respond to, that’s a really “close second.”

Firefighter Helmet Challenges

Heretofore, the greatest challenge that firefighter helmet manufacturers faced was producing a helmet that protected a firefighter’s head while not being so heavy that it caused excessive stress on the neck, especially when worn during extended operations.

The latest challenge for manufacturers is producing a helmet that can easily be cleaned and decontaminated, to reduce their exposure and risk of developing cancer, by removing the harmful chemicals, chemical compounds and carcinogens that firefighters are exposed to while engaged in interior structural firefighting.

Bullard’s New Lightweight UST-LW Fire Helmet

The newest addition to Bullard’s UST Fire Helmet Series is designed to meet both of those challenges head-on! Using an advanced fiberglass composite material for the helmet shell, Bullard design engineers have reduced the weight of their lightest helmet in its UST Series by up to 10 oz. (300 grams), depending on the specific configuration. The Lightweight UST-LW Fire Helmet features a molded nylon inner liner with polyurethane foam thermal barrier that provides impact protection and resistance to internal heat rise. Bullard’s proprietary U-Fit headband system, with thirty-six different adjustment settings, ensures that a firefighter can get their helmet to fit “just right.”

Bullard’s newest helmet meets the cleaning and decontamination challenges with an easily removable cotton ratchet cover and brow pad and ear/neck protector.

Additional Safety Features

Bullard’s Retrak Integrated Visor, which retracts into the helmet crown to protect the visor when not in use, gives firefighters one-handed visor operation that accommodates eyewear (e.g., prescription spectacles or safety glasses) as well as the SCBA facepiece. An optional TrakLite integrated lighting system, featuring eight forward-facing, long lasting LED lights, is available to give firefighters maximum lighting capabilities where they need it in low-light conditions.

They’ve accomplished all this while producing a helmet that is now one of the lightest on the market, ranging from 49.3 oz (1.3 kg) to 54.4 oz (1.5 kg) (depending on part variation and components) while being fully compliant with the specifications of NFPA 1971: Standard on Protective Ensemble for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Firefighting.

Make the Lightweight UST-LW Fire Helmet Yours

Bullard’s newest firefighter helmet uses a new super matte finish for the shell that’s available in black, red, white, and yellow. The helmet also features an intricately carved brass eagle, or Canadian maple leaf, that securely holds a leather front shield in place under the most rigorous conditions (Optional handcrafted leather fronts are available from Bullard at

With all that, shouldn’t the Bullard Lightweight UST-LW Fire Helmet be your firefighter helmet?

Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Virginia) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years. He was an instructor for fire, EMS and hazardous materials courses at the local, state and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s degree in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy’s EFO Program. Beyond his writing for and, Avsec authors the blog Talking “Shop” 4 Fire & EMS and has published his first book, “Successful Transformational Change in a Fire and EMS Department: How a Focused Team Created a Revenue Recovery Program in Six Months – From Scratch.” Connect with Avsec on LinkedIn or via email.