Team development instead of quiet tinkering
As with every HAIX boot, the development of a firefighter boot requires real teamwork: a collaboration between artisan shoemakers, design experts and quality specialists in an intensive exchange across departments. And the boot can only meet HAIX’s high standards when these work meticulously with the production, sales and marketing departments as well.
Whether they’re in Europe, Northern or South America, Asia or Australia, HAIX boots are exposed to extreme situations every day. Inspiration therefore also comes from the wearers themselves, as their feedback flows into development via sales and marketing.
From specification to series production
A so-called ‘requirements specification’ defines what area the new development should be for, what the boot must be able to do, which technical requirements must be fulfilled, and much more. The concept for the boot builds on this before ultimately being given an appealing design. At first, the developers start with simple hand drawings. These is then used to create a prototype – often initially only of individual parts such as the sole. The first prototypes are usually a mixture of literal shoemaking and computer-designed parts. They are put through their paces to see if all requirements are met, and improvements are made on an ongoing basis. After final approval, the first samples are produced, and then the final production of a new firefighter boot begins.
Highest requirements for hero boots
The DIN standard for firefighter boots places high demands on every component. The goal at HAIX is always to exceed these. Every component on a firefighter boot must survive ten seconds of flame treatment without damage or burning. HAIX continuously tests materials in its own laboratory during the development phase. In the so-called ‘sand bath test’, the protective insulation inside the boot is tested. A real endurance test: firefighter boots must be able to withstand 250°C for 40 minutes without the sole deforming, and after 10 minutes the temperature inside the boot must not exceed 42°C. In an emergency, firefighters can usually be inside for up to 30 minutes until their breathing apparatus runs out of air. The standard differs in some instances for overseas use.
When it comes to design, HAIX follows the philosophy of ‘nothing without function’ – which means every detail not only sets high standards visually but also has a purpose. The additional yellow elements on the firefighter boots, for example, make fellow crew members more visible in smoky buildings.
The right firefighter boot for every scenario
Firefighters want boots that go beyond the standard’s requirements and are as comfortable as possible. After all, the entire equipment can weigh almost 40kg in use. Some scenarios require boots with additional cut protection. There is no universal ‘perfect firefighter boot’ (yet) – essentially, the boot must be right for the individual wearer. Here are some basic differences: Some firefighters prefer quick, simple pull-on boots. The lace/zip fastener system on the SPECIAL FIGHTER PRO series is still a bestseller. But the fast-lacing system on the FIRE EAGLE boots is very popular too, because it adapts perfectly to each foot and closes snugly with one pull. Many firefighters are on the move so much that what counts most is a light weight, which is what the FIRE EAGLE series offers.
It can take at least two years, including test phases, to develop a new firefighter boot from the last to the sole and the upper. Particularly innovative functional elements are sometimes worked on and optimised for longer until they are ready for series production.
For more information, go to www.haix.com