The Basics of Fire Helmet Inspection

All PPE elements must be inspected regularly to ensure continued serviceability in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.

New inspection requirements in the 2020 Edition of NFPA 1851 state that:

  • In addition to upon issue and after each wearing, individuals are also required to perform Routine Inspection at the beginning of each duty period.
  • Advanced Inspection continues to be required annually and also whenever a Routine Inspection determines potential damage.

NFPA 1851 requires that Advanced Inspections of PPE elements be documented. For fire helmets, that includes the following basic information: who the helmet was issued to, the condition when issued, and issue date; model, serial number, and date of manufacture; and the date retired, date disposed of, and disposal method.

Additionally, there are several Advanced Inspection criteria that are rated on a pass/fail basis:

  • Soiling/Contamination
  • Physical Damage: Ear Flaps Rips, Tears, Cuts, etc.
  • Thermal Damage: Ear Flaps Flame, Heat, etc.
  • Stitching/Seam Integrity
  • Liner Attachment System/Damage
  • Loss of Flexibility
  • Damage to Shell – Bubbling/Warping/Soft Spots
  • Damage to Retention/Suspension Systems or Missing Components
  • Functionality of Retention/Suspension
  • Faceshield/Goggles Missing Components
  • Damage To Faceshield/Goggles i.e., Scratching, Discoloration
  • Faceshield/Goggles Functionality
  • Reflective Trim Damaged or Missing
  • Impact Cap Damage i.e.. Cracks, Dents, Abrasions, etc.
  • Accessories for Compliance
  • Label Integrity/Legibility

MSA recommends obtaining a copy of the current edition of NFPA 1851 to ensure complete compliance. Information regarding inspection criteria, cleaning criteria, repair, and retirement of your MSA Cairns® Fire Helmet is also available in the MSA Cairns Fire Helmet Operating Manual.

Additional Resources

Fire Helmet Advanced Inspection Form: to help document Advanced Inspections; completed forms can be used as documentation of the Advanced Inspections as required by the standard

Fire Helmet Tracking Form: an aid in documenting dates of Advanced Cleaning/Advanced Inspection/Repairs; action taken including but not limited to replacement of soft goods and chinstrap; and inspection findings and repairs made


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