Coaling Fire District Chief Backs MSA European-Style Helmet, Weighs in on Ongoing Debate

Coaling Fire District Chief Scott White of a local Alabama fire department gives his candid opinion on European fire helmets. Chief White proudly wears an MSA helmet, despite the popularity of traditional fire helmets and the ongoing debate of European vs American fire helmets. This is a transcription of a firefighter video recently captured at Central Alabama Training Solutions:

This is a transcription of a firefighter video recently captured at Central Alabama Training Solutions:

A lot of your older, traditional firefighters, they’re going to laugh at European fire helmets, and they’re going to make fun of it. They hate it, I’ve watched reviews about it, they hate it. But I don’t care. I’m looking for safety, and what’s best for my guys.

I just got this MSA helmet. It’s got built-in lights on the side. I want to say the department paid $300 for each helmet. I thought it would be a lot more than that. If you’re a rookie, you get a black helmet, and once they pass their probation, I give them the opportunity to choose between the traditional helmet with the leather front, or this helmet, which is yellow, or these new ones.

This is the first fire where I have worn this, but I have trained with it a lot. These MSA helmets come in different sizes. This is the large, but they have a small, medium, large and extra-large. It’s fully adjustable. The front and back brackets adjust.

There are other options to go with it. I got a microphone system that comes down with a speaker. There are all kinds of little features.

What really sold me on it, was the protection of European firefighter helmets. I have fallen off stuff, and the first thing that used to always go was my helmet. With this thing, it stays on your head. You can tumble, fall, whatever. When you hit the ground, you’re protected. It is almost like wearing a motorcycle helmet. Well, it is.

We are just trying them out. Seeing if we like them. The only negative I have seen so far is egressing. This helmet is wider than the typical 6-inch hole. So, if you were to egress through a 6-inch wall, it doesn’t matter how you turn this, you’re going to be in a bind.

You would have to physically take it off and shove it through the hole and then put it back on when you reach the other side, which you sometimes have to do that with your air pack. That’s one of the few things I found that’s negative about it.

It works really good with the masks, and the other thing that I really like about it is the nape of this MSA helmet. Compared to a traditional fire helmet, the nape doesn’t hit the back of your neck. When the rim of a traditional helmet hits your neck, it constantly pushes the helmet forward. When you get to where you’re crawling, you got to put your head back. With this European helmet, it just fits right back down into the back of your neck, and you can move your head all the way around.

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