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Object of the Month

Fire Helmet

The brass fire helmet was introduced by the Chief Offcer Massey Shaw to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, London in 1868 following a visit to the Sapeurs Pompier de Paris, France.  Massey Shaw slightly re-designed the shape of the helmet and took his ideas to Merryweather & Sons, a fire equipment company, and the iconic brass fire helmet was made for the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Whilst Massey Shaw thought the helmet was unique to his brigade, Merryweather&Sons did not! They sold the helmet to fire brigades thoughout the UK so it became a familiar sight throughout the country. The helmet was in continuous use until 1937/38, making it the longest serving helmet in Brigade history.
By the mid 1930s, the increasing use of electricity at work and home meant the brass helmet was becoming a liability, with the risk of electric shock to those wearing it.  Several firemen were killed or seriously hurt due to their helmet coming into contact with hanging electrical wiring.  Brass was therefore replaced by helmets constucted from compressed cork and rubber. The design and construction of helmets has continued to change over time and are now made of modern materials that best protect the firefighter for the task involved.