Firefighters test helmets in hopes of preventing neck injuries

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WAYNE TOWNSHIP, IN-- A firefighting tradition dating back hundreds of years is getting a change in Wayne Township with new helmets the fire department is testing. The department said it's working to strike a balance between tradition and safety, but hopes new helmets help cut down on chronic neck injuries.

Six firefighters are testing out the European style helmets for safety and comfort.

"It was a little bit of a sell to get me to wear this," firefighter Linise Gordon said.

Gordon is trying out the gear.

"With the chance of making a lot of firefighters mad I think it actually would be a lot better, it's more comfortable, it seems to be a little more durable and it just seems all around a little bit better," she said.

The goal is preventing chronic neck injuries.

"As our membership gets older they're gonna start to notice some of these things with chronic neck issues or back issues," Wayne Township Fire Captain Michael Pruitt said.

He said there are two documented cases of chronic neck issues in the department and that both firefighters wore heavier helmets.

Pruitt said the two and half pound weight of the European style helmet is more balanced and more encapsulating. It rings up at about $200 more than traditional helmets, but Pruitt said it wouldn't cost taxpayers.

The firefighters are also evaluating the helmets for any trade offs. Pruitt said they want to make sure the new helmets can keep debris and hot and contaminated water from running down a firefighter's neck. They'll test the helmets out for as long as needed.

"I'm kinda actually starting to like it," Gordon said.

Though it may break with tradition, some may just be warming up to the idea.

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