Recent Calls
Fri. Dec 6th 2019
At 1701 hrs crews were alerted to a local residence for alarm bells sounding. While en route command was notified of a burgerly alarm sounding in the residence as well. 1st Assistant Chris Ceccarelli ...
Fri. Dec 6th 2019
At 1559 hrs crews were alerted to assist Belle Vernon Fire Co with alarm bells sounding in a local apartment building. Command arrived on scene and found a culinary mishap and cancelled all mutual aid...
Wed. Dec 4th 2019
At 1745 hrs crews were alerted to assist Rostraver Central Fire Co with alarm bells sounding in a local hotel. Command arrived on scene and found crews working on the system and cancelled all mutual a...
Wed. Dec 4th 2019
At 1251 hrs crews were alerted to assist Belle Vernon Fire Co with alarm bells sounding in a local apartment building. Command arrived on scene and found a culinary mishap and cancelled all mutual aid...
Mon. Dec 2nd 2019
At 0715 hrs crews were dispatched to Broad Ave for a reported transformer fire on a utility pole. Command arrived on scene and found no such incident in the area and power not effected. Command cancel...
News Headlines
Sun. Nov 24th 2019
We received a call from the North Pole at Santa was coming for the annual North Belle Vernon Light Up Night and was asked to use our station's landing zone and board the reindeer in the truck bay ...
Mon. Sep 30th 2019
The members of Charleroi and North Belle Vernon got together on Monday September 30th for training. The departments split up into groups of 4 with members from both department intermingled in the grou...
Fri. Sep 27th 2019
Looking for something to do on November 23rd come out and have a chance to play the popular TV game show right here in North Belle Vernon. Tickets cost is $25.00 and includes dinner, drinks and a chan...
Mon. Sep 23rd 2019
During our regular meeting held on Monday night members were presented with a wooden flag that honors our four line of duty deaths. Thank you again FF Scott Moody for the great piece.
Fri. Sep 6th 2019
We are continuing to upgrade our equipment with the purchase of another thermal imaging camera and a new set of rescue tools. This equipment with along with other future and recent upgrades will bette...
80 Leatherheads


Chief Kurt Parshall

1st Assistant Chief Chris Ceccarelli

2nd Assistant Chief Jeff Antal

Captain Mike Ceccarelli

3rd Lieutenant Kolton Ramsdell

Fire Fighter Ken Ramsdell

Fire Fighter Shelby Ferguson

Fire Fighter Justin Kon


History of the Leather Helmet

Jacobus Turck of New York City is credited with inventing the first fire cap around 1740.  It was round with a high crown and narrow rim and was made of leather.  Improvements on his design were made by Mathew DuBois, who sewed iron wire into the edge of the brim to give the helmet shape and strength, and to provide resistance to heat, moisture and warping.  The leather helmet, as it is known today, came from a very modest and non-fire related beginning.  The year that the traditional fire helmet was invented is mired in speculation and debate however it is generally agreed upon as sometime between 1821 and 1836.  The gentleman credited with it's founding is Henry T. Gratacap.  Gratacap was a volunteer fireman in New York City.  His made his living as a luggage maker who made a name for himself because of his innovative luggage specifically designed for ocean transit.  It was made of leather that was specially treated to offer unparalleled durability and withstood wetness without rotting.  These qualities were very desirable in a fire helmet as well.  Gratacap incorporated eight (8) combs [ a design of eight (8) segments ] into his helmet for extra strength.  It was adopted for official use by the New York City Fire Department in the late 1800's and given the name the 'New Yorker".


The New Yorker helmet has remained virtually unchanged throughout approximately 168 years of faithful and steadfast service.  The New Yorker helmet retains the same look and quality that generations after generations of firefighters have relied on.  They are made of stout tanned Western cowhide, one quarter of an inch thick, and reinforced with leather strips which rise like Gothic arches inside of the crown.  The long duckbill, or beavertail, which sticks out at the rear, is designed to keep water from running down the wearer's neck.  Originally, the helmets were sometimes worn backwards so that the beavertail would protect it's wearer from the intense heat from the fire.  Additionally, some tillermen would also wear them backwards to protect their faces from rain and snow.


During this time, two brothers named Cairns were operating a metal badge and insignia business in New York City.  The Cairns brothers are credited with the idea of mounting an identification badge to the front of Gratacap's helmets.  Today these are known as "Front Pieces".


The two companies operated cooperatively until Gratacaps retirement sometime in the 1850's.  This led to the birth of the Cairns & Brother legacy which has pioneered firefighter helmet technology ever since.  Cairns and Brother's commitment to protecting fire fighter's lives is evident in their systems, where engineered components synergistically work together for unparalleled protection in harsh environments.  The original OSHA compliant leather helmet, it remains individually hand-shaped, hand-trimmed and hand-stitched to meet the strenuous demands of todays most dangerous profession.


The "Leatherhead" is a term used to individualize a firefighter who chooses the leather helmet for protection from the hazards we face daily.  The leather helmet is an international sign of a firefighter, a symbol that is significant in not only tradition from the early years of fire fighting, but one of bravery, integrity, honor and pride.  This helmet is a sign of who we are - not what we are.


Although several types of components exist to attach the front piece to the helmet, fire fighters who truly live the tradition wear a carved brass eagle to adorn the top of the helmet.  The eagle has it's own significance in history but no traceable story through the fire service.  In approximately 1825, an unknown sculptor made a commemorative figure for the grave of a fire fighter.  It remains in New York's Trinity Churchyard today.  It shows the fire fighter issuing from the flames, his trumpet in one hand, a sleeping baby in the other and atop his helmet - an eagle.  Fire Fighters were not wearing eagles at the time and it was a flight of pure fancy on the part of the sculptor.  As the image was viewed and word was spread, the idea was widely adopted.  It has remained a traditional component of the helmet ever since.

© 2020 North Belle Vernon Fire Department