In 1968 through a mutual love for collecting antique fire helmets from all parts of the world two young fire captains, Ronny Coleman and Ray Russell, began a life long friendship. Their joint hobby for collecting fire helmets soon became inspiration to improve upon the American fire helmets of that time. Their objective was to make safe helmets that incorporated: balance, longevity, light weight, comfort, ergonomics, and could be used for all emergencies.
In an era when firefighters rode on the sides and tailboards of the fire engines the design also needed to be aerodynamic, a feature that was often overlooked. The helmet had to look and perform as well or better than anything that had previously been produced. They wanted to build fire helmets that met the demands of forestry, urban, and metropolitan fire service and would stand up to the most rigorous conditions.
After much discussion with an emphasis on design, both men gathered the necessary funds to purchase an injection molding tool. Shortly thereafter, in 1972, they established Phenix Technology, Inc.
In the spring of 1973 Phenix Technology, Inc. unveiled the "First Due;" their first generation of contemporary fire helmet made of injection molded high temperature thermoplastic. Shortly after its release 200 of the First Due helmets were purchased by Riverside County Fire Department. Three other large metropolitan departments were soon to follow.
In 1976, the US Fire Administration and US OSHA assembled a group of fire service personnel, manufacturers, and head safety engineers to develop the "Model Performance Criteria for Structural Firefighters’ Helmets." This standard was then adopted by US OSHA and became the law of the land. All state OSHA agencies adopted this standard which gave manufacturers a baseline criterion. Phenix Technology, Inc. met the standard when it was first introduced and continues to meet or exceed it today.
In 1982, NFPA created the 1972 fire helmet standard which was ultimately absorbed into the 1971 standard. This revised standard required a higher temperature rating and better shock attenuation of firefighting helmets. The First Due 1500 met or exceeded all of the requirements.
In the new millennium Phenix Technology, Inc. decided to capture and preserve the rich history and tradition of the fire service by designing their very own traditional leather helmet. Building upon the beneficial elements of their previous design the objective would remain the same; a safe, light weight, comfortable, well balanced helmet that would provide superior head protection without causing discomfort during extended use. They accomplished their goal with the launch of the Phenix 1500 Traditional Leather. Since its’ introduction, the TL-2 has become one of the most desired helmets in the US fire service.
Due to frequent requests for a more comfortable, lighter weight, ergonomic traditional composite helmet, Phenix Technology, Inc. began designing their traditional composite helmet in 2007. The Phenix 1500 Traditional Composite hit the frontlines in the early months of 2008. The TC-1 provides the same light weight, safety, and comfort of all the preceding Phenix models with a traditional look similar to the TL-2 at a more economical cost.
It is now some four decades later and Phenix Technology, Inc. is still a family business at heart who continues to proudly manufacture in the USA and continues to provide top of the line fire helmets. Phenix Technology, Inc. maintains the utmost pride and strives to manufacture the best fire helmets for today’s fire service since they have always been made; "For Firefighters, by Firefighters."
By the way, those two young firefighters who founded Phenix are still there and available to answer any questions you might have about firefighter head protection.