Share your Cairns stories and photos!
See what your fellow firefighters have submitted below! Send in your own stories and pictures by clicking here.
Darren B. Schuylkill Haven, PA
Hello, My story isn't anything spectacular, but to me it means alot.
I'm only 20 years old, new guy, Joined when I was 16. Ever since I joined I wanted a Leather so bad like any other new guy. I had the opportunity to buy one several times over the past 4 years but plans changed... recently i got "The Itch" to get one and I was absolutely determined to get one. Well a very good friend of mine knew I wanted a Leather and he had a Used Cairns N6A that he bought used when he first joined. New Years day we went down to the firehouse to hang out a little and he brought his leather with him and tole me he wanted to work on it. I went on doing my own thing while he was working on his helmet. About 30 minutes later he called me back to the Dive Shed. I walked back there to see that he had put my Frontace off of my helmet on his leather and said here you go. My friend didn't as for anything in return. That shows me that with everything thats going on in this world there are still people who still care about other people.. I guess what I'm getting at is that I know that this helmet really meant alot to him. I was to return the favor and get him a N6A,Or fix up the one he gave me and give it back. The Sheild Holder is all bent and damaged so I was looking around to get the Carved Eagle Holder for it.
warren s. Pamplico, SC
I Have 2 old leather helmets a 93 Sam Houston and a 92 New Yorker. Both are still in active service. I have been to too many HOTTTTT structure fire to count and they are still stong as ever. They have all been refurbished and still going. You make the best helmets known to man and God Bless you all.
Justin B. Lynn Haven, FL
Leather Forever! N6a. Training or dark smokey hallways...it always saves my a$$.
Kent P. south hamilton, MA
First off thank you for the chance to win a such a well made helmet in the first place! Since I was born I have grown up in the Fire House. My father has been a firefighter his entire life and it is all I have wanted to be. When he made deputy chief my mother bought him a Cairns N6A White Sam Houston that he has worn ever since with a gold leaf front. A picture of this helmet has been attached. When I finally became old enough to join the department I joined and was given an old beat up N5A NY'er that I restored! Although this helmet looks beautiful, It does not have an impact cap and is not as safe as I would like. I need a new helmet to protect myself at my job. As I am reaching the end of my high school career I am planning out my future in the fire services. Currently I am looking at several fire science related schools and the military! No matter what path I go down it will eventually end up with a full time firefighter/paramedic job.
Thanks so much for your long lasting, traditional products that protect my brothers and sisters as they fight what others fear.
have a nice day and be Safe!
David E. Chestertown, MD
I was in a training exercise when the room I was in nearly flashed. The smoke was banked down to my eye level as I was crawling through the house. I saw flames through the smoke and I knew it was only a matter of time before it flashed. If it weren't for the PBI earflaps on my N6A I can only imagine how I would have faired out.
Steve C. Marietta, GA
I was hooked on the quality of Cairns leather fairly early in my career. The first time I wore one was all it took for me to want one.
The comfort, design traits and tradition, merged with the impact cap technology of today. The sum of all parts accomplished brilliantly into a piece of functional beauty,that will take the beating of daily shift work and allow it to simply roll off the brim.
I have been wearing ONLY Cairns N6A leather since 1990, to date I have managed to get four of them in my possession, all of them are special in their own right and all of them are well worn and used.
I am not one to send testimonials on products but found this site and was compelled to respond and state my praise for your incredible product.
Sincerely and Respectfully
Steve W. Cook
Palmetto Ga. Fire / Rescue
Tyler L. Shelbyville, IN
My Cairns Leather helmet protected my melon when a portion of a ceiling collapsed while doing overhaul at an abandoned house. The fire was suspected to be arson.
Chris P. Emlenton, PA
You just can't bet the protection and durability of our Sam Houstons. Solid helmet!
chance h. st augustine, FL
During an interior attack on a mobile home fire, an object exploded and struck me in the head and knocked me to the floor. It was protected by my Cairns Sam Houston Helmet. My nozzleman moved toward the fire inside and I quickly recovered and got back to my knees and backed him up. The Christmas tree and contents of the living room were burning and needed to be knocked out to save the home. Steven never heard or saw what had occurred. The smoke was so thick, you couldn't see you hand in front of your mask. We extinguished the fire and went into overhaul mode. As the smoke cleared I could see the object that struck me had been sitting on top of the stove. An unopened can of whole kernal corn had heated up and the can bleved. Corn kernals were every where! And the jagged remains of the can lay on the floor next to where I had entered the front door. Never would I ever considered a can of corn dangerous! Thank goodness for great Personal Protective Equipment! Leather Forever!!!
Tyler S. Lexington, KY
I was on a working fire last summer during the overhaul stage of a single story shotgun style home with several additions over the years. While operating a member of the crew i was operating pulled a ceiling joist down while pulling ceilings and the joist came straight down on top of my N6A and other than seeing a few stars and stumbling a bit from the confusion associated with the sudden hit i was able to continue operating at the scene. My Leather helmet took the hit and shows no signs of damage. I own three Cairns Helmets a 1044 w/defender that i purchased to where at my volunteer house which has since been turned into a training helmet i wear to Live fire classes. This helmet has exceeded all expectations and more. I was issued a 1010 by my employer and loved it up until i purchased my N6A. Thank you for making such a great product.
John R. Oxford, MS
A fellow officer and I arrived on scene of an approx. 1200 sq. ft. house with moderate smoke showing. We were dressed as soon as the engine pulled in the driveway. We both packed out and began to make entry. My fellow officer made entry through the front door while I pulled some hose up the front steps. When I felt I had enough on the porch, I entered the structure behind him. As he walked into the room adjacent to the fire room, he began his fire attack. When he began to hit the fire, the fire rolled over the room he was in and hit him head on. He was wearing a fairly new red Cairns N6A Houston. The flames were so intense, even for just a brief moment, that his leather shield almost seemed to melt. The helmet itself sustained no damage other than some melted Bourke Eye Shields and some cool sooting of course. Had he been wearing a plastic helmet, I feel he would have been hanging that helmet on the wall afterwards. There is no way a plastic helmet could have withstood that intense fire that seemed to engulf his entire head.
John B. Indianapolis, IN
My crew and I were assisting in the rescue of a steel worker that was pinned between a tractor trailer and a loading dock. Before our arrival, the factory had moved their multi-ton overhead lift above the trailer in an attempt to relieve some of the weight off the worker. I was standing on the loading dock directing my employees when the straps attached to the lift broke free. When the straps broke free the lift cables with a hook on the end began to swing wildly striking me on the side of the head. Thankfully I was wearing my N6A Houston with my chinstrap in place so I sustained no injury. My N6A is so strong that it only sustained a minor nick in the brim. That day confirms the reason I wear a Cairns N6A leather helmet. It is the reason why almost all of my employees also wear the N6A. Thank you Cairns!
Houston C. Asheville, NC
My best friend is a Firefighter for a City dept. that just experienced a LODD, and if it wasn't for his N6A Sam Houston he probably would have lost his life. Also, at some point in the Line of duty, the Captain that died wore a Cairns, I miss Jeff, but he died doing what we love to do. I want to honor him and the rest of the brothers in the brotherhood by wearing a Cairns Leather N6A Sam Houston, Thanks and as always Be safe.
Sean F. Watsontown, PA
I acquired this N6A Houston helmet from one of the Captains in my department and I quickly fell in love with it. Unfortunately, it met its end one day during a structural burn class, but I refuse to get rid of it. It will always be a showpiece in my house and has even traveled to college with me as it was my first "real" helmet. I wont wear anything but Cairns!
Byron G. Liberty, NC
When I began my fire service career over 25 years ago, I quickly became interested in the history and tradition associated with the job. I began collecting antique fire equipment early on, and I enjoy sharing that part of the history with younger firefighters as they get started. The helmets pictured are part of my collection, some of which I have worn throughout my career. Left to right are a Cairns 350 Aluminum Senator, a Cairns Classic 1000 that I used for many years as a Live Fire Instructor, a Cairns Leather War Baby complete with a letter from a Cairns family member describing the history behind that model, a Cairns 1010 that I currently wear as a Senior Captain with Chapel Hill, a brand new Cairns N6A Sam Houston ready for service, a Cairns Metro 660C that was my first helmet at Chapel Hill, and my pride & joy - a Cairns N5A New Yorker painted Carolina Blue with our IAFF Local Ram Mascot on the front. Enjoy the picture, remember the history & tradition, and Be Safe!
Jason M. Broken Arrow, OK
My N6A Houston helmet has protected me in many fires and various incidents throughout its life, but on 7/24/11 it saved my life. While on the second story of the 6700 sq ft house me and my other two crew members were preparing to go back out due to our low air alarms activating. I was just inside the doorway of the attic space and was giving it one more shot of water when our area of the house shook and collapsed sending me headfirst into the garage and leaving the rest of the crew on the edge of what was left of the second story. Shortly after hitting the garage floor I heard the roof tumbling down collapsing on top of me, trapping me underneath the burning rubble. While readjusting my mask I heard my guys send out a mayday over the radio and started to free myself. I was able to push some of the debris off me and crawled out from under the rest of it, low on air and with some minor burns and severe pain in the left side of my chest I looked for a way out. After exhausting a couple of different means of egress and having no tools that made the journey down with me to breach an outside wall, I went back to the previously blocked off front of the garage where this time I was able to faintly see the front of the driveway/yard. I dove, rolled,and crawled through the debris and fire to the front of the garage and into a stream of water that was from the RIT team making entry to come find me. They pulled me out the rest of the way, started treatment and put into a ambulance enroute to the hospital. After a few nights in the hospital due to minor burns, cuts and bruises, fractured ribs and a collapsed lung on the left side,they sent me home to recover. A week or two later I went to go look at my gear and realized that my helmet not only protected me from the fall but from the the looks of my bent over bill that it kept some of the heavy roof timber from crushing my neck and or back of my head. Sorry about the length, just wanted to let you know that your products can and do make a difference everyday in the lives and families of fireman. THANK YOU for the craftsmanship, quality, and pride that you guys/gals put into each of these helmets.
William H. Baltimore, MD
Recently, my company has done a series of training in our flash over simulator at the academy. First time I used another brand helmet, and it didn't last at all. Second time I used my black N6A Sam Houston, and the only damage to it was my shield and Bourkes getting melted.
William H. Baltimore, MD
I started my volunteer service 5 years ago and what I was taught by many people on skills to keep me not only safe but alive and one them is the PPE you wear and some one once turned me on to cairns helmets and ever since I seen and heard from others story of how they have held up threw every thing I've been sold that's why I own two Cairns N6A Sam Houston helmets and would change for nothing
Rodgee B. Butler, PA
We love leathers at my station! Its cool that we can still have helmets with such a history in the fire service. Thank you MSA!!!
Eric C. Endicott, NY
Myself wearing a red Cairns N6A Houston helmet while attacking a truck fire in the outskirts of Endicott, NY.
Brian T. Hillsborough, NC
I've had my N6A Sam Houston for over a year and it is the best made piece of my PPE. It has kept me safe from falling debris and melting building products during numerous fires. I will keep this helmet forever. Thank you for your quality work. Keep up the good job.
Andrew M. Wetumpka, AL
This is my N6A Houston. I am the training captain for the Wetumpka Fire Dept.
Adam S. Shamokin, PA
I had bought a N6A Sam Houston deluxe about three years ago, and what I have to say about Cairns/MSA is that the craftsmanship is unbelievable. It goes everywhere with me and I beat it up and it still looks brand new. I recommend Cairns helmets to everyone that I talk to. I love the way they are built and I will never buy from different company.
Ryan B. Round Hill, VA
Picture of my Cairns Leather Sam Houston after a working structure fire. Custom shield was handmade by myself. I love to continue the tradition and pride of making handmade custom shields for myself and my fellow brothers.
DEREK K. Venice, FL
I was forced to buy a used N6A (Houston) off ebay due to the halt in production. I am happy with it but disappointed that it isn't "mine." I'm waiting for production to begin again. Thanks
Trenton P. Greensboro, NC
I was attending a live burn with my company about two years ago. We were inside and the fire had reached the attic. While extinguishing the fire, my Cairns Sam Houston Leather Helmet protected my head from the falling debris.
Todd W. Saint Cloud, FL
Sam Houston N6A with Gold Leaf.
Greg S. Cocoa, FL
With great pride I can say that Cairns has protected my wife and me for a combined total of 23 years in the fire service. My wife retired after 11 years with Orlando Fire Department and I currently work for Titusville Fire and Emergency Services. Until last year, I was the only firefighter wearing a leather helmet with our department until I had to retire my Sam Houston due to age. I have not yet purchased another due to the expense but truly want to return to wearing a helmet known for its safety, durability, and tradition.
Fred D. Youngstown, OH
In 1995, I was working a fire in an occupied auto body shop. as we were advancing, without warning, a 8' shop light fell down and struck me square on my head! I was disoriented, and was led to safety, but had no injuries due to the fact that I was wearing my cairns Sam Houston helmet that I had since 1991. at that time, the only damage done to my helmet was that the front holder was bent! Since 2004, I've been using a 1010, since our large fire load forced me to retire my faithful Houston. this helmet now sits on my TV in my main cave, and reminds me how lucky i was to escape serious injury that day, and how this trusty helmet has seen the worst fires, and was with me thru our "war years"! At least 3-400 fires or more I had with this protective helmet thru the years, and it was the best! I wouldn't use any other brand of helmet!!! 175 years means something to me!!!
Rik T. Chapel Hill, NC
My Cairns N6A Houston protects me every day that I work. Cairns is my favorite brand, and is now the only brand that I trust to protect me. I trust them now more than ever because they have kept my favorite leather helmet style in production but includes today's safety needs and concerns. Thanks!
Clayton V. Grand Island, FL
Doing Haz-mat operations wearing my Sam Houston N6A.
Gary B. Balch Springs, TX
I received my Sam Houston as a graduation gift from the academy in 1992. It has served me without fail through out my career. It has protected me in several hostile fire environments and ceiling collapses. To me, there is no substitute. She is a little worn now, but still on the job!
Joshua T. Columbia, TN
My name is Joshua Thomas, I have been a firefighter for close to 10 years, and I have grown to love this profession. I feel it’s one of only a handful that the rewards out weight the risk. I first heard of the Cairns Leather Helmets a few years ago. The moment I seen one and actually wore one, I immediately fell in love and had to have one. I started my career as a volunteer, and then was blessed to be hired in a small, yet growing dept., then into the career dept. I’m currently with now. I have worked as a Firefighter for the Franklin Fire Dept., located in Franklin, Tennessee for 4 years now. I knew this was the dept. I wanted to retire from. I had begun to save for Cairns Leather Helmet from day one. With college and other financial undertakings, my dream to own a leather helmet was placed on hold. In the early summer of 2010 I was able to purchase my first Cairns Leather Helmet. It was like Christmas had come early. I ordered the Sam Houston N6A in Black. After a few modifications, it was exactly what I had hoped for. The next day I took it into work, got it approved from my officers, and began using it. Within a few months I had used it in 2 separate fires, and a live-fire burn exercise. It performed better than I originally expected. The fit, feel, and protection it offered made me a believer. One fire in particular was your standard single-story residential structure fire. We arrived on scene with smoke showing from the front. We entered in to make an initial attack. As we made our way to the fire, we encountered a down fall of heavy heat and smoke. The ceiling began to give way, and the contains from the attic began to fall in on us. My Cairns helmet had done its job. It with stood the heat and debris that was all around us. We were able to successfully make our way to the seat of the fire, and extinguish it before any more damage was caused. Since then I had used it in a number of fires, and it is one of the best investments I have ever made. The biggest kick that I get lately is using it in pub-eds. The kids and parents get a huge kick out of hearing of the history of the Leather Fire Helmet and how it came to be and how the similar design is still being used today. I love my helmet, and I love the pride and ownership of having one. I’m currently saving to buy another helmet for my Volunteer Dept.
Alley M. Merced, CA
Proud to wear my Sam Houston. Trusted for 175 years.
Derek K. Venice, FL
Hello, I have always wanted a Cairns leather fire helmet. Now when I have the opportunity to purchase one, the helmet is no longer in production (Houston). I've always wanted a Cairns leather helmet due to the tradition behind them. I'm a big supporter of tradition in the fire service. I'm a second generation Firefighter. My father started around the same age I did in California as a Wildland Firefghter. We even volunteered at the same department, different times. I've been living the dream since I was 15 when I started as an Explorer at Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department, Nokomis, Fl. In 1999. I participated in the program until I graduated from High School and turned 18 in 2003. Then I graduated to full staffing of a Volunteer Firefighter. I did my time and was promoted to Lieutenant. I was hired at Englewood Area Fire Control District in January 2006 as Firefighter/ EMT. I'm now a member of our Honor Guard. A semester away from completing A.A. Degree in Fire Science at State College of Florida. I also instruct at our academy, Englewood Fire Training Center. I also instruct CPR in our community. I hope to one day promote through the ranks to Battalion Chief. The first two links below are my departments. The next two are related to a near fatal event that I was involved in. http://englewood-fire.com/ http://englewood-fire.com/EFTC/default.htm http://www.firefighternearmiss.com/index.php/search-reports (search: training/paid municipal/firefighter) http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20100715/ARTICLE/7151084
Stephen W. Sylva, NC
Bull's New Sam Houston
Andrew V. Tonawanda, NY
Tradition and Pride N6A Houston Leather Helmet
Michael S. Bangor, ME
We were working a house fire on a cold March day. I was about 15 feet in the front door working a hose line when all of a sudden the ceiling came crashing down on me. It moved my helmet to the right side of my head and shook me up a little bit but the helmet did it's job and protected my head and neck from injury. Thank you Cairns for making such a GREAT product!!!
James M. Canton, GA
I've always known I didn't want to wear the standard (non-Cairns) issued tupperware most departments offer their firefighters. Be it a call to uphold the tradition of wearing a leather helmet or the dedication to a handcrafted work of art or the added safety and durability over cheap plastic- I knew from the start of my career I would always wear leather. I have worked for a very busy department that experienced a high volume of fire calls. Where other guys would often requisition a new helmet due to intense fire damage sustained, my leather took the beating and always remained structurally sound. When some guys had to bail out early during extinguishment operations, my leather has always protected me from high temperatures and allowed me to stay in the fight and complete my assigned tasks. Even in cold temperatures when some guys complained of freezing ears, my Cairns earflaps on my N6A Houston provided adequate warmth so I could continue rolling hose or working during adversely cold conditions. I have witnessed many entrapped firefighters- too many to be honest. In every circumstance the guys wearing a Cairns N6A Houston seemed to come out of the situation a little better than those without. Look, our career is inherently dangerous by nature, so if the added protection of a hand made leather helmet could make the difference in your life or death- why wouldn't you choose that option? I know I do and so do most of the guys I work with. Make the decision that could save your life if needed- buy a Cairns leather helmet and wear it for your entire career. You will retire before this helmet does!
Todd W. Saint Cloud, FL
There is just not any other helmet which can replace my Sam Houston N6A. It is my helmet (of choice). I have personalized it with a leather chin strap and a personalized gold leaf. Thank you!
Web M. Milledgeville , GA
I have been wearing Cairns Helmets for my entire career. I have been on the job since 1970. Regardless of the situation whether it is in training, live fire, or on a call, my Cairns Helmets have sustained high heat, ceiling material and superheated water falling on top of me, and glass and metal rebounding during extrication situations. My Cairns helmets have saved me from head and facial injury on a regular basis . So whether I win a new Cairns helmet or not, is academic, because I am already a winner...every time I return from safely from a call . Thanks Cairns/MSA . P.S. I own and have worn the Topguard, Cairns 880, 881, Classic 1000, Sam Houston, and currently the Cairns 1010. Your helmets are like the Timex watch, they take a beating and keep on protecting .
John B. North Beach, MD
While operating on a house fire a Cairns Sam Houston protected my head from falling debris from the second floor. Nothing spectacular but it saved me a lot of trouble.
John F. Englewood, FL
At my first structure fire in 1974 I was back up to the knob when a beam fell from the basement ceiling and nailed me in the head. The leather took the brunt of the blow and I came out of it without even a headache. My partner on the knob got it on the shoulder and broke his shoulder blade. This is one reason why I just bought a new N6A Houston when I decided to make a return to the fire service.
Bennie M. San Antonio, TX
I have worn Cairns Helmets for almost 20 years and have purchased a 1010, 1044, and an N6A Houston within the last 15 years. These helmets have protected me during the 13 years that I was assigned to the Heavy Rescue Team in the SAFD. I still use your helmet and purchased an N6A Houston leather helmet about 2 years ago for use during training of cadets for the San Antonio Fire Department.
Casey Q. Rohnert Park, CA
I was on a scene of a vehicle extrication where I was cutting the door off with our extrication tools, when as i popped the front drivers door off a piece of metal shot off and stuck into my N6A Sam Houston. It was literally embedded into my helmet. If my N6A Houston was not on for some reason it would have done serious damage to my head. Thanks MSA/Cairns
Trey C. Arnoldsville, GA
This is my pride and joy. It was forced into retirement this year because of no ratchet and being over 10 years old. This is a Cairns N6A Houston. Date of MFG. 5/14/91. Love my Cairns Leather and will not wear anything else ever. Thanks for building a great helmet.