New look for firefighters

SUFFOLK'S firefighters are now equipped with futuristic, Star Wars-style headgear in a bid to make their job safer.

Lizzie Parry

SUFFOLK'S firefighters are now equipped with futuristic, Star Wars-style headgear in a bid to make their job safer.

The helmets come complete with an integrated torch, camera, radio link and microphone to give the county's firemen and women the latest technology to tackle fires.

With gold-plated visors they resemble the head armour worn by stormtroopers in George Lucas's science fiction series.

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They can resist temperatures of up to 1000C (1832F) and offer full cranial protection with padded chin straps and soft foam inside making them more comfortable than ordinary helmets.

In Suffolk, �110,500 was spent on the new Gallet fire helmets with 850 ordered by fire bosses, one for each operational firefighter in the county. They cost �130 each.

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Assistant Chief Fire Officer Gary Phillips said the new helmets are part of the services on-going priority to ensure their firefighters are as safe as possible.

“These helmets provide a greater level of protection, they fit better and are more secure, and are less likely to become dislodged or fall off.

“We are being futuristic; we want to equip our firefighters with the best possible kit to allow them to serve the Suffolk community, working as effectively as possible.”

“The firefighters are absolutely delighted, they can see it is a real advance in terms of their protection and welfare,” he added.

And the reaction from members of the public who have come across the new helmets has been positive, despite concerns the reflective visor could worry people.

Mr Phillips said: “Everybody has been very impressed, they can see the greater protection benefits.

“We were concerned but the visors are designed to be used at major fires rather than road accidents, they aren't designed to frighten people.

“When someone is being rescued from a fire they don't tend to notice or care how futuristic their rescuer looks.”

And the old helmets will not be going to waste. They are being donated to Operation Florian, a charity providing equipment and training to improve fire fighting capabilities across the world.

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