In 1968 through a mutual love for collecting antique fire helmets from around the world two young fire captains, Ronny Coleman and Ray Russell, began what would be a lifelong friendship. In 1972, those two firefighters decided to make their vision a reality; they would create a helmet that truly met the needs of emergency personnel. After all, who better to design a product than men who have worn one themselves? With over 150 years of first responder experience, Phenix Technology, Inc. embodies that vision today.
They sought to design a product that would leave the fire service a better place. In an era when firefighters rode on the sides and tailboards of the fire engines, the design 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 all types of emergency situations from forestry, to urban, and metropolitan fire service, and would stand up to the most rigorous conditions. From that vision, the First Due, a true all-risk helmet, was created. The First Due was their first-generation contemporary fire helmet made of injection molded high temperature thermoplastic.
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 on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting. This revised standard required a higher temperature rating and better shock attenuation of firefighting helmets. The First Due met or exceeded all of the requirements from the beginning.
In the new millennium Phenix Technology, Inc. decided to capture and preserve the rich history and tradition of the fire service by designing our very own traditional leather helmet. Building upon the beneficial elements of our previous design the objective would remain the same; a safe, lightweight, comfortable, well-balanced helmet that would provide superior head protection without causing discomfort during extended use. We accomplished that goal with the launch of the Phenix 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, we began designing our traditional composite helmet in 2006. By 2008, the Phenix Traditional Composite hit the frontlines. 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.
Now, 50 years later, Ronny and Ray’s vision still acts as our their guiding light – a vision to leave the world a better place. For Phenix Technology, Inc., that change starts within. We are committed to creating an environment of joy for all because we believe that by developing people, those people will develop better products that will leave the world a better place.
Over the last 50 years, we have done just that. From one of the first companies in the world whose quality management system was ISO 9001:2015 certified to being nationally recognized in 2018 by winning the President’s “E” Award for exports, people seek to achieve excellence. Located in Riverside, California, we are proud to manufacture entirely American Made fire helmets used by thousands of emergency personnel around the world.
By the way, former Assistant Chief of the California State Fire Training Division, Ray Russell is still there and available to answer any questions you might have about firefighter head protection as Phenix helmets have always been made; "For Firefighters, by Firefighters."