IFSJ Exclusive: Pacific Helmets talks safety without compromise

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Pacific Helmets’ Sales and Development Manager, Lee-Anne Glanville-Rothman, talks about Haloflex technology, helmet maintenance and the company’s international ambition

Pacific Helmets was established back in 1982 by David and Marion Bennett with the ambition of getting New Zealand Governments to mandate a safety standard for riding bicycles. David’s passion for safety drove the business forward moving from non-emergency services’ head protection into the realm of emergency services and technical rescue.

The first large scale tender which Pacific Helmets won for structure firefighting helmets was for the London Fire Brigade. This tender was the pivotal point in the company’s manufacturing evolution and the reason it continues to deliver quality products without compromising the end users’ safety.

We spoke to Lee-Anne Glanville-Rothman, Sales Development Manager, at Pacific Helmets to find out about the company’s new products and why “Safety without compromise” is the manufacturer’s mantra that it lives and breathes.

Tell me about your role at Pacific Helmets?

I was born and raised in South Africa and moved to New Zealand in 2017. I’ve always had a knack for technical applications and had developed a good understanding of the technical world when I moved. I joined Pacific Helmets in October 2021 which has served as my introduction into the fire and safety world. It’s been a great challenge and one that I’ve really enjoyed.

My role at the company is Head of Sales, Marketing and R&D. I work with a group that I’m lucky to have in my charge because we go head-to-head with some of the biggest competitors around the globe.

What is Pacific Helmets’ current focus?

We have a new product launching in the first quarter of 2023: the F20, with Haloflex™ technology. Everything in this helmet moves away from your traditional approach of the internal padding and soft components and suspension points. Our focus was full decontamination, ease of use and weight reduction. We’ve spent countless hours reading and listening to the studies which are available and ensured that our pursuit and design addressed as many of the concerns and requirements as possible.

The F20 has a ‘quick clip-in clip-out’ comfort padding system. You can disassemble and reassemble the soft components within 60 seconds. The design focused on ‘tool-free maintenance’ with the components that need to be changed out often. This approach aimed at reducing the necessity of a repair agent servicing the helmet, and the user being without their helmet for a period.

The repair works can be brought inhouse with training provided to guarantee the helmet’s integrity is not compromised. We’ve also reduced the weight of the helmet by 100-150 grams (depending on the standard) and we look forward to hopefully reducing that more in future developments. Haloflex marks the new innovative way forward for our company. We’re wanting to make waves in the industry and we’re going to be incorporating it into more of our product range.

What other new products have you been working on?

In our structural fire range, we have the one touch eye protector (OTEP™). You don’t have to pull it down manually. You push it up and it deploys. There is a small grub screw which allows for height adjustment to suit the individual wearer. The new rescue eye protector (Rescue EP) designed for our R6 rescue range will be available in the first quarter of 2023. The methodology of modular connection provides flexibility to end users to add and replace accessories if and when required. The Rescue EP moves away from the current attachment method towards a ‘retrofit’ which end users can complete themselves or our distributors before shipping the products out. A key focus of the design was adjustability – it’s not just a stationary eye protector. You can shift it forward and back to the wearer’s face, easily accommodating many face shapes and spectacles.

What advice do you have for firefighters with regards to longevity?

It is important to make sure that the chemicals or materials you’re using to clean the helmets comply with the manufacturer’s suggestions. This is normally within a specific pH range and we have that in our user information guides (UIG). We also, depending on the material you have internally for lining, suggest you clean and disinfect your internal soft components in accordance with the UIG or manufacturers guidelines.

You recently appointed Venari Group as your UK distributor – how did that come about?

Venari’s Oliver North and John Purdy approached us to open a conversation around the potential to supply Pacific Helmets products into the UK market. John, an ex-fireman, knew of the Pacific Helmets brand and thought the partnership would be a great match. I am excited to see what we will achieve together in the Fire and technical rescue market. The aim is to be accessible and visible while rebuilding our brand recognition with Venari.

What are Pacific Helmets’ plans for the future?

Our goal is to improve our market share and presence within the US. Our brand is well recognised and asked for by name, which is a great position to be in, specifically when your aim is to gain a larger share of the market.

The digital strategy project will provide an improved presence, not only through the US but globally to our current and future end users. The aim is to improve product data availability, easy access to technical documents, increase our distributors presence and locations, and build a space that improves the positive word of mouth advertising from impressions.

Our business has grown to this point from word of mouth. We have an opportunity to reach across multiple platforms, globally, to showcase what we offer and who we are. That’s what I am aiming at: building and becoming a ‘First responders’ brand of choice’.

Finally, what sets Pacific Helmets apart from other manufacturers?

We are head protection experts. Our focus and drive are bringing the best products and innovative designs to life. This platform provides ample room to think outside the box and in a few instances, we have been first to market with our products designs.

What we deliver to the end user brings them home safely. We do not skimp on quality or cut corners when it comes to making sure that out helmets pass and exceed standards. That’s been the driving heartbeat at Pacific Helmets, and it will forever beat strongly.

This article was originally published in the November edition of IFSJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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