De Queen firefighters first in state to use European-style helmets


DE QUEEN, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) — A fire department in southwest Arkansas is ahead of the times when it comes to protecting the heads of its firefighters.

The De Queen Fire Department is the first in the state to use European-style helmets. 

“It’s a lot more comfortable,” said De Queen Fire Chief Dennis Pruitt. “When you’ve got those [traditional] helmets on, they flop around a little bit and they kind of get in your way of trying to do things.”

In addition to comfort, these new helmets have added safety features built-in, like barriers to block carcinogens, and adjustable goggles and shields.

“[Traditional helmets] just cover the top of your head where these actually come down and help protect the side of your head, the ears and everything,” said Jay Litchford, firefighter.

LED lights are also built into the devices and additional features like cameras and radios can be added on. All can be contained within the structure of the helmet.

“The biggest problem you run into with [traditional] helmets is everything that’s hanging off these helmets catch in certain situations,” said Litchford.

The De Queen team is the first in the state to make the switch to the new style. The chief said the reason is firefighters aren’t big on change.

“Because they’re non-traditional,” said Pruitt. “They don’t look like other fire helmets, and they do look different. The police said we look like Power Rangers in them.”

The black helmets may look suited for someone riding a motorcycle instead of a fire truck, but Chief Pruitt said he’s more concerned with function instead of fashion.

“We may be the funniest looking fire department for a little while, but I think at the end of the day, when the firemen go home to their family, it’s worth every bit of it,” said Pruitt.

Chief Pruitt said he plans to order the new helmets for all his volunteers by next year. The new style costs about a hundred dollars more than traditional fire helmets. 

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