SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHAPTER, SOCIETY FOR THE PRESERVATION AND APPRECIATION OF ANTIQUE MOTOR FIRE APPARATUS IN AMERICA

CFE June 2003 Meeting at Phenix Technology, Riverside, CA

On Saturday, June 7, 2003, over 25 CFE members and guests attended the CFE meeting at Phenix Technology in Riverside, CA. The Board & General Meeting was held in the morning, followed by lunch provided by our hosts. Phenix Technology has a large number of fire helmets on display in their lobby as well as an extensive firematic toy collection, dating back to the turn of the century.

In the afternoon, Phenix owner Ray Russell presented a program on the history of fire helmets. Russell is a retired CDF career firefighter who worked out of Orange County's Laguna Hills station 22 back when they had Crowns! He now is a volunteer firefighter with Riverside County/CDF Fire. Russell and his business partner and fellow-firefighter Ronny Coleman started Phenix Technology shortly after meeting in 1968. Both had been collecting fire helmets since the early 1960s and between them they had amassed a collection of helmets, both foreign and domestic, numbering in the hundreds. These helmets were the basis for designing their new helmet. They took the best ideas of several helmets in the collection and came up with their contemporary line of "First Due Fire Helmets" which has been produced since 1969.

Phenix currently makes both "thermoplastic" as well as traditional leather helmets for firefighters all over the world. The Phenix First Due helmet is perhaps most famous as being the distinctly shaped helmet used by the L.A.F.D.

Over the years Colman and Russell have continued building their collection to include not only helmets, but also buckets, badges, nozzles, hand drawn fire apparatus, early fire equipment and a large collection of fire service toys. They also included fire service and management books in their collection amassing one of the largest fire department related libraries west of the Mississippi River. The Phenix collection includes some rare and one of a kind items. Including fire helmets from all over the world, dating back to 1780. There are also over a thousand toy fire apparatus in the collection, many of them from foreign manufactures. Read more about the collection by clicking here: Phenix Fire Helmet and Memorabilia Collection.

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