What To Look for in a Firefighting Helmet

The standard fire helmet has come a long way since the 1820s “New Yorker” protective headgear that established helmets as a necessary staple in firefighting uniforms. The leather helmet is still a popular choice for the more traditional firefighter, considering its vast improvements over the past two centuries.

Whether you prefer the classic helmet or opt for the modern evolutions, quality fire helmets are an essential item for experienced and amateur firefighters alike. Read on to explore what to look for in a firefighting helmet to maximize your safety on the job.

Preferable Style


For the old-school look, firefighters will opt for a leather helmet. While leather helmets today still roughly resemble the first mass-produced firefighting helmet, they have undergone several groundbreaking improvements to boost their safety.

Leather helmets produced today remain highly flame-retardant and durable. Their heavy-duty structure increases their weight, but they are still a popular option for firefighters looking to uphold a traditional appearance.

Modern Composite Helmets

Many firefighting helmets are composed of a durable thermoplastic and other complex products. Modern composite helmets are sleek and lightweight, but maintain the durability that leather provides.

The design of these helmets takes after the original leather helmet, so firefighters that make this selection can still rep traditional firefighter style. Their designs, however, accommodate for face or eye coverings. The versatility of modern composite helmets has made them the widely adopted choice by fire departments across the nation.


The NFPA 1971 is a standard that all fire fighting PPE must meet. Your fire helmet selection should meet, if not exceed, all NFPA 1971 standards. Equipment that meets these qualifications provides at least the minimum levels of protection against common environmental hazards of firefighting duty.

Additional Eye Protection

Hot embers, debris, falling objects—all dangerous encounters for firefighters. Reduce the chances of impaired vision by opting for helmets that enable eye protection. Many helmets today offer detachable face shields that provide optimal head coverage.

Choosing the Right Helmet for You

Commonly, a helmet ends up as a retired firefighter’s favorite souvenir from the job. Understanding what to look for in a firefighting helmet will help narrow down the safest options. Prioritize comfortability, functionality, and style when it’s time to make your helmet investment.

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