Many companies claim to be a ‘family business’, but few can be as confident when they say this as global functional footwear expert HAIX, now led by the third generation of the Haimerl family. And while HAIX supports wearers across a range of different industries, firefighters have always held a special place in Haimerl (and HAIX) hearts.
First founded in 1948 by Xaver Haimerl (with the HAIX name being a shortened version of the ‘Haimer Xaver shoe factory’), the HAIX brand quickly became synonymous with quality work and outdoor footwear. While working as a certified master shoemaker in his father’s factory, Ewald Haimerl had also risen to the rank of deputy chief of Mainburg fire service. In 1992, when finding that he and his colleagues weren’t satisfied with the rubber boots they had to wear on duty at the time, Ewald decided to design a collection of functional leather firefighting boots for his colleagues.
The boots set new standards of functionality, protection and comfort, and were so well regarded that HAIX began selling them, expanding into developing footwear for rescue workers and the police the following year. Seventeen years later, in 2010, the launch of the HAIX Fire Hero revolutionised the fire-boot industry for a second time, giving firefighters around the world access to what were considered the safest firefighting boots ever developed.
A decade on, and though HAIX offers a wide range of firefighter footwear to suit the demands of a diverse range of job roles, the commitment to the essential needs that firefighters expect from their boots remain the same. Boots must protect the wearer from hazards, be quick to put on at a moment’s notice, be rugged enough for long-term wear in extreme environments, and provide comfort and support for every wearer.
HAIX’s history supporting firefighters has ensured that its fire boots will always provide these essentials – because they are designed by firefighters, for firefighters. Features that are at the top of the list for today’s firefighter are:
- Protection – firefighters need to know that every item of their kit is working to protect them in the extreme, often dangerous environments they work in. Their boots need to be made of tough materials to keep firefighters’ feet safe. HAIX firefighting boots across the range feature steel puncture-resistant midsoles, meaning wearers can operate in environments with underfoot hazards including broken glass or fallen masonry with confidence. Ultra-light, reinforced toe caps protect from falling debris and injuries from potential trip-hazards, and high-quality leather uppers mean boots are sturdy, flexible and hydrophobic. The Fire Eagle boot incorporates a CROSSTECH membrane that insulates wearers from water or external bodily fluids. Many boots in the range also feature ‘signal yellow’ colour patches that are designed to ensure wearers are always visible, even in areas with a lot of smoke or low-light visibility.
- Grip – firefighting operations mean you can never be sure of your footing – variable terrain in and around structures, or outside fighting bush fires, coupled with the potential of wet floors and spillages such as oil and petrol are a ‘perfect storm’ of potential slip hazards. HAIX’s fire-boot range features a PU sole across all models, with deep tread that provides a guaranteed firm grip, even on slippery surfaces. Boots such as the Fire Eagle have been developed with a two-component tread, making them completely slip resistant. Combined with special fins used in conjunction with additional grip elements, they provide outstanding stability, even on wet ground or ice.
- Durability – high-quality fire boots are an investment and should be made to stand up to the same demands that their wearers are. Manufacturing from high-grade materials, such as bull leather, antistatic non-marking PU rubber, fibre-reinforced toe caps and CROSSTECH membranes, ensures that HAIX boots go the distance, even after long periods of wear in extremes of temperature.
- Fit and support – long shifts spent on your feet, moving, climbing ladders and tackling uneven terrain put firefighters at risk of foot injuries, and even longer-term issues like Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) if their boots do not provide the right levels of support. HAIX’s designs include elements such as PU sole support wedges, two-zone lacing systems, foot arch support and heel cup cushioning to ensure that wearers are guaranteed the best fit, no matter how long the wear time – because if you’re worrying about your boots, you aren’t focusing on the job at hand. HAIX fire boots also feature designs made to make donning/doffing them smoother and faster, ideal when a call comes in and every second counts.
The work of today’s firefighter is evolving as our built environment and the way we live is changing. Firefighters face new challenges and HAIX will continue to innovate to ensure its products are one step ahead. Now, more than ever, firefighters remain at the centre of the HAIX family.
For more information, go to www.haix.co.uk
Based in Bavaria/Germany, HAIX is a functional footwear specialist with a worldwide reputation as a ‘safe brand’. Wherever people need high-performance footwear that will not let them down, HAIX has become the brand of choice – in Europe, North America and Asia.
At the company’s headquarters and main sales office, HAIX has established dedicated R&D, design and marketing departments. In the high-tech research and test lab, HAIX engineers develop new functional features and set new trends and standards for safety footwear. For the production of its top-quality functional boots, HAIX operates factories in Germany and in Croatia where the company built one of the most modern shoe manufacturing plants in the world.
The HAIX Group has set up a sales office in Lexington, Kentucky (USA) and employs more than 1,300 people all over the world. In 2018, the company produced more than 1.2 million pairs of boots, achieving a turnover of €120 million. For more information, visit www.haix.co.uk