Station Pride Articles

The Death of Leather in the Fire Service

CLIFFWOOD, NJ – In an announcement made today by the U.S. Supreme Court, leather will no longer utilized in the production of firefighter ensemble or accessories, unless lawfully approved by a Board of Trustees that is comprised of members throughout the country that are trained and authorized to employ such use in a manner that would prove to be uninvolved with fire suppression activities.


The New York Times revealed several studies and interviews made by the founding members of Cairns & Brothers, a company that designed leather helmets has been named as one of the leading proponents of it’s product’s usage. “Leather is made more durable and outlasting today than ever before. If it weren’t for it’s usage in the fire service, we would be out of a job.” Cairns & Brothers have been the leaders in “lids” since the early 1850’s and have kept the design similar to that of it’s inventor, Henry J. Gratacap. Recent studies by consulting firms have revealed that leather helmets are being referred to as “top-heavy and unsafe.” Click here for current lawsuit information.

Other leather accessories such as front pieces, belts, and radio straps are also being included as a way to completely rid the profession of all types of leather, due to it’s apparent risk. Different types of leather are currently being tested in burn rooms for endurance, sensitivity, moisture release, conductivity to electrical hazards, and melt factor.

What could be done to prove the regulations are working? For years, safety stickers have been found inside the impact cap that indicate the date of manufacture, type of testing, inspector test code, and light refractivity rating. Over time, these stickers have stood up against the elements of the atmosphere most commonly found in fires. Manufacturers have become less strict on their placement/type of material used and it has been apparent in recent tests. “It is important for all manufacturers to comply with labeling requirements,” says Justin Paddock, Chief of Sciences at the Bureau of Exposure and Atmospheric Reactions to Headgear Factors under Thermal Insult (BEARHFTI). “These labels ensure consumers know if the products they are purchasing are new or used, contain added chemicals, may pose a risk to family members with allergies, and that products meet basic flammability requirements. In short, these labels protect the health and welfare of households.” For years these labels have stayed inside helmets, however it is becoming evident they are being removed, or more importantly, becoming less legible. Just so you know, some people probably didn’t make it this far. If you did, I would like to formally thank you very much for staying true to our page and following us. Without loyal viewers like you, we wouldn’t be what we are today. Since you are here, please be sure to bash the hell out of all the haters of this article in public forums and don’t let them talk too much trash about us. We appreciate your support and thank you very much. Now back to the end of the article, to “make it look good. “Labels have been required to assist in warranty and claim information, but have recently been of little help. Helmet labeling requirements in California began in 1911, in response to the fires following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. At that time, there were no set standards for letting consumers know what materials were used in the making of their leather products, allowing unscrupulous manufacturers to use unsafe materials.

Furthermore, due to a national shortage of cowhide, there has been an incline in supply, which has caused an all-time low in “economical relative susceptibility to purity,” according to Paddock. Consequently, leather products and their by-products have been on the decline in recent months. For these reasons and more, leather has become a past-time in our great profession, and we all need to go out and rid ourselves of it’s usage. We at Station-Pride highly recommend putting it to good use and put some salt on it as quickly as possible…because it sounds like it won’t be around for much longer. Visit our friends over at Leatherhead Mafia for more details and literature on how YOU can prevent this from happening.

13 Comments on The Death of Leather in the Fire Service

  1. I have worn a leather for more than 25 years now and never want to go back to a fiberglass helmet. I had melted 4 fiberglass helmets before going leather and have not had a problem out of them am on 3rd leather lid and love it. LEATHER FOR EVER!


    • Are you fighting fire in your oven or something ??

      Liked by 1 person

    • I call bullshit


    • Mr. Kidwell – You are wearing a contaminated, non-cleanable, toxic mess on your head. Leather absorbs more chemicals which you will NEVER get completely clean (which you should do after EVERY fire). If you’ve melted 4 fiberglass helmets, you are obvious (by your own statements) an unsafe individual.


  2. Nice. I had to reread some parts till I understood.


  3. Arn Nowicki // April 1, 2017 at 9:56 am // Reply

    Very good article about some important issues. Does anyone collect challenge coins?


  4. More of the pussifacation of the fire service!!!!


  5. Love how people get all worked up on April Fool’s Day.


  6. Brian Singles // April 6, 2017 at 1:33 pm // Reply

    I am an old fireman who believes in a leather helmet. I have had one since 1980 and I will proudly wear it until the day I finally stop being an active firefighter. I have had plastic helmets and fiberglass helmets and they do not stand up to the same wear and tear of a good old Cairnes Leather New Yorker. If you don’t think leather is better then I say stay out of the fire. Smart firefighters know how to read smoke and are trained how to know when its too hot to stay in. I have yet to burn my leather helmet.


  7. Can you provide reference to the announcement?


  8. Bill Merson // March 9, 2022 at 7:17 pm // Reply

    I have worn a leather helmet since June of 1971 I still use them ( not the original one lol ) I swear by them My first and second leathers were N5A New Yorkers and the last 3 have been the N6A Sam Houston I will not wear anything but leather. When I joined my Volly company in 1969 we used the Aluminum Senator helmets I saw some guys from a neighboring county with lesthers and have been faithful to them ever since. I was hired as a Career FF in 1972 and used a leather at both houses until I retired as a Career Ff in 2018 . Still riding at my Volly house


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