It is rumored to have been the inspiration for Darth Vader’s helmet. The Smoke Helmet was made in 1878 from Siebe Gorman & Co. Siebe Gorman was one of the most famous company in diving equipment founded in the 1830’s and at the same time it was the first company that registered the “Smoke Helmet,” a helmet worn in smokey places or with dangerous gas like mines. These helmets would attach to a long hose that ran to an operated bellows. The fireman would then go into a smokey building to carry out rescues or firefighting duties. The hose was his only air supply and lifeline. Signals were given by tugs on the hose – 1 tug was for more air, 2 tugs less air and 3 was for help.
(Source Image URL from http://hatchingcatnyc.com/)
The equipment consisted of a leather helmet fitted with an openable visor, a leather seal and ties, and a exhalation valve. The visor is made of Mica, not glass, to see through. Mica is heat-resistant and does not conduct electricity. The window frame is aluminum. This is also one of the first industrial uses for aluminum. Aluminum was a new and unique metal, durable, lightweight, and resistant to tarnishing. At the time, it was considered quite rare and valuable.