Choosing a Helmet
Bullard helmets achieve the optimal level of comfort through a variety of factors. Design expertise is a key element in the lightweight feel of Bullard helmets. By choosing lightweight, but durable, material components and designing a helmet with optimal balance, Bullard heightens the level of comfort the helmet provides.
When weighed, Bullard helmets may not weigh significantly less than other helmets on the market. There is often a difference of only one to two ounces. The design and engineering of the helmet, however, brings Bullard to the head of the class when put through an actual comfort test.
Composite (or fibreglass) versus thermoplastic. What’s the difference? Which material is better? There are many misconceptions about these two fire helmet materials. Bullard offers both composite and thermoplastic fire helmets. Each material has its own specific strengths.
Composite helmets are made up of a mixture of thermoset resins and glass fibre. The thermoset resin is the “glue” that is needed to hold glass fibres together in a composite helmet shell. Thermoset resins are a family of plastics that do not melt, but chemically degrade at high temperatures. Thermoset resins are created by mixing two base materials just like epoxy glues. One of the ingredients is a catalyst that, when combined with the other agents and heat during molding, will solidify the mixture, locking itself and the glass fibres into a rigid state. In compression molding applications, very little catalyst is used so that the liquid resin remains stable at room temperature; the heat and pressure of the molding operation initiates the chemical reaction to solidify the resin.
Thermoset resins by themselves have relatively little strength; the strength of a thermoset composite material comes primarily from the fibres of the glass or other materials that are bonded together by the resin.
The challenge in designing an effective composite materials is getting the right mix of a good thermoset resin and high content of glass. The glass fibre is heavier than the resin, so getting the right mix also creates the best potential for a lighter helmet shell. Most fire helmets today have a glass content of approximately 50%.
Fiberglass helmets have traditionally shown their best strength against chemical exposure. Today’s fibreglass helmets also protect well in high heat environments. However, over time and repeated exposures to extreme temperatures, the thermoset resin that holds the glass fibres together in fibreglass helmets begins to degrade with each exposure. High heat exposures can accelerate the degradation of fibreglass helmets.
Until relatively recently, it was possible to obtain either great heat resistance or great impact resistance, but not both in the same material. Thanks to new advancements, thermoplastics can now exhibit a high quality surface finish, impact resistance and heat resistance. While today’s advanced thermoplastics can perform at temperatures exceeding 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius), thermoplastics can be sensitive to some chemical solvents.
Since thermoplastic helmets are made by a process of melting and re-cooling, they are designed to accept the type of re-heating that occurs when fighting fires.
The Bullard UST Models reflect the traditional style of fire helmets. The UST helmets are outfitted with a detailed, carved brass Stars & Stripes Eagle or Canadian Maple Leaf design. These intricate and durable leather front holders reflect the strong patriotism and heroism of firefighters. The UST Series also offers the option of a matte finish, combining the look of leather with the strength of a composite shell. All Bullard helmets offer 12 custom settings to achieve a custom fit with any style or model. Choose the Bullard UST traditional style when tradition and history are integral to your personal style.
Get a sleek, contemporary look with Bullard Models FX, PX, LT and USRX. Low-profile and lightweight, these helmets offer the same protection and comfort as all Bullard fire helmets, but with a contemporary style. Choose a contemporary style for less bulk, less weight and easy cleaning. All Bullard helmets offer 12 custom settings to achieve a custom fit with any style or model. Choose Bullard contemporary style helmets for a current look and feel.
Did you know that you can make your helmet feel lighter— without actually removing any weight? It’s all about balance. Bullard helmets are engineered to offer superior balance, reducing the top-heavy feel of many helmets. Plus, with Bullard fire helmets you can choose to adjust your helmet to ride higher, lower or somewhere in the middle on your head. Choose your perfect balance by simply adjusting the posts on your suspension. Learn how by viewing our Custom Fit Flyer (127 KB PDF).