Wednesday, January 9, 2013

History of New Yorker Fire Helmet

Bullard Fire Helmets on PSS

In 1740 Jacobus Turck built the first fire cap, in NYC.  The cap had a wide brim and a tall crown.

In 1824 Mathew Dubois made a key improvement.  He added a metal wire to the brim of the cap for more strength and stiffness.

But in 1836 H.T. Gratacap - a successful luggage maker and FDNY volunteer firefighter - built the first "New Yorker" fire helmet.

Mr Gratacap was a manufacturer of unique luggage for ocean transit.  In order for his luggage to withstand wetness without rotting, he used specially treated leather.  This leather treatment also made his luggage exceptionally durable.

With this product knowledge, and his experience as a firefighter, Mr Gratacap then built the first leather New Yorker fire helmet.

The original structure had 4 leather combs (segments that were stitched together).  Soon it had 8 combs, then 12, then 16, and sometimes more.  One of his best features was the long duckbill in the back of the helmet which prevented water from running down a firefighter's neck.

Mr Gratacap later added a frontpiece with raised, stitched lettering and an eagle holder which attached to the frontpiece.

177 years later, the New Yorker-style is still widely used and very popular.  It is also called the Traditional fire helmet, and is now available with a few modern options:

  • Ear covers
  • Chinstrap
  • Goggles
  • Faceshield
  • TrakLite lighting

Today there are several great helmet manufacturers.  We happen to carry Bullard Fire Helmets at Public Safety Stores.  Let us know if you have questions.

Happy New Year!  We know you have a stressful job, so we wish you all the best in 2013!!

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