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Napoleon Bonaparte reordered the various fire fighting organisations in Paris (and later other cities) into a unit of the French Army called the Sapeurs-pompiers.They wore a brass helmet with a high central crest, similar to that worn by dragoon cavalry, with a frontal plate on which a badge representing their city was embossed.
In 1871, British physicist John Tyndall wrote about his new invention, a fireman's respirator, featuring a valve chamber and filter tube.
Leather helmets have fallen into disuse, only seeing use in some fire departments in North America, such as New York and Houston. Toronto Fire Services) that use the Leatherhead have a beaver in place of the eagle for the brass adornment.
In Province of Quebec some fire departments use the letterhead helmet, ex: Montreal fire dept, chiefs use the letterhead instead of firefighters and officers use the Bullard.
Invented in 1903 by Dräger & Gerling of Lübeck, Germany, the smoke helmet was a fully enclosed metal helmet with glass face mask, featuring two breathing bags covered by a leather flap worn over the chest.
This respirator became so critical to mine rescue operations that rescue workers became known as draegermen.
These helmets were made of brass, but those belonging to officers were silver plated.