When I was in the E-3 we still had check the bail out chute to see if it was serviced. No chutes or helmets though. Like you said, in the intrest of fuel savingswe have those on the gas-wagon too although we have to bring our helmets just incase we have to bail out (without parachutes mind you, they ditched those in the name of fuel savings, i am told)
Yeah it's pressurized to 7.45 psi normal, OR 4.5 psi for Combat, but you have to wear the helmet for T/O & Land, Aerial Refueling, Low level flight. With the helmet on all you have for a mic is the O2 mask, So if you want to talk and have both hands full you have to have to O2 mask connected. During A/R you have to have to O2 regulator in On and Normal so you can smell if there are any fuel leaks. All other times above 12000 feet it is usually in on and 100%. In high altitude cruise flight, if the pressure holds to below 12ooo ft you can use a headset. Wich comes in mighty handy on one of those 16+ hour flights.
Favorite thing to hear on the BUFF....Right closed traffic approved full stop. Throttles idle, airbrakes 6, Drag chute deploy.