Leatherhead Tools is an American manufacturer of high quality tools serving firefighters, rescue personnel, law enforcement, SWAT teams and the United States military. Tradesmen using high-carbon U.S. steel and age-old forging methods build our tools. We utilize the latest technology in fiberglass manufacturing to add features like highly reflective color embedded into our handles and hydrant markers making them easier to locate in dark conditions. We listen to the professionals we serve to innovate and design superior tools that perform the functions they want and need.
In early 2007, Dasco Pro, Inc., a quality hand tool manufacturer since 1922 and one of the last remaining hand tool forging companies in the United States, turned their attention to tools used by fire and rescue personnel. After visiting several firehouses nearby in Rockford, Illinois and consulting with area firefighters, it became clear there were many professional firefighters, rescue personnel, departments, and municipalities looking for innovative products at a competitive price.
Dasco Pro believed they could bring value to this underserved market by designing and developing superior quality tools that would be manufactured and assembled in the USA, using American steel, still the world’s finest. Within a year, Dasco was ready to introduce a full line of Fire and Rescue products — axes, sledges, hooks, and forcible entry tools – that merged the quality of their forged steel with innovative, hi-density, hi-visibility handles designed to improve durability and reduce the number of tools lost in smoky, low visibility conditions.
It was a special tool line worthy of a new name – a name that would express the toughness and durability built into them. A name that would mean something to the professionals that would use them. The product line was named Leatherhead Tools.
The Evolution of the Leatherhead Name: The Firefighter’s Leather Helmet Story
No one knows exactly when the term Leatherhead began being applied to firefighters, but we do know why. It was born as a reference to the leather helmet worn by these heroes for protection from the hazards they faced everyday on the streets serving their communities.
Over the years, the Leather Helmet has become the international sign of a firefighter, a symbol that has expanded in meaning from a traditional occupational icon to include abstract qualities such as courage, integrity, honor and pride.
Jacobus Turck of New York City is credited with inventing the first fire cap around 1740. It was round with a high crown and narrow rim and was made of leather. Mathew DuBois improved the design by sewing iron wire into the edge of the brim to give the helmet shape and strength, and provide resistance to heat, moisture, and warping.
The more familiar “modern” helmet was developed between 1821 and 1836, by Henry T. Gratacap, a luggage maker by trade, and a volunteer firefighter by choice. He brought his professional skills to his volunteer duty, creating a helmet made of leather that was specially treated to provide unequalled durability and withstand water without rotting – many of the same qualities he’d built into his successful luggage designed for ocean travel.
Moreover, Gratacap designed the first “eight comb” fire helmet (a design composed of eight segments). It was named the “New Yorker” and officially adopted by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) in the late 1800s. Made of Western cowhide a quarter-inch thick, the peaked shape was reinforced with leather strips that rose like Gothic arches inside the crown.
The Gratacap design also introduced the long duckbill, or beavertail, which sticks out at the rear. While the original purpose was to keep water from running down the firefighter’s neck, these helmets were sometimes worn backwards so the beavertail would protect its wearer from the searing heat encountered while fighting fire. Some early Tillermen would also wear them backwards to protect their faces from rain and snow, since they were exposed to the elements in their seat at the back of the aerial ladder trucks.
Later, the Cairns Brothers, who operated a metal badge, button and insignia company in New York City, offered a useful modification – mounting an identification badge to the front of Gratacap’s helmets. Sometime around 1825, a more ornamental touch was added, an eagle was mounted atop the crest. The idea for the eagle was derived from a cemetery monument for a firefighter that had been created by a sculptor; there was no history or significance to it, but it captured the imagination and fancy of firefighters and became part of the Leather Helmet story.
Gratacap and the Cairns Brothers worked together until Gratacap’s retirement in 1850, at which time a renamed Cairns & Brother took over the legacy and continued to lead the development of firefighter helmet technology.
The original – and OSHA compliant leather helmet is individually hand shaped, hand trimmed, and hand stitched to meet the strenuous demands of one of civilization’s most dangerous professions – firefighting. Cairns & Brother never forgot their commitment to the brave individuals who wore their helmets – to provide unparalleled protection in harsh environments.
To show our respect for the brave firefighting men and women today, for those who wore the Leather Helmet in our past, and to remind ourselves of the commitment shown by those who provided it for them, we adopted the name Leatherhead for our Tools.
To assume the position of industry leader in the manufacturing and distribution of fire and rescue hand tools through distributor and catalog channels, driven to bring value to customers, associates and our community
To earn our customers’ trust by exceeding their expectations and making decisions driven by what is best for our customers
To conduct business with the highest standards of personal conduct and business ethics, always treating people the way we would want to be treated
To have our company grow as our associates grow professionally and personally, by maintaining an environment where people feel enabled to make decisions that help the company serve our vision, by having faith in their judgment and decision-making, and by openly sharing information about our business and associate concerns
To constantly improve productivity by continuously looking for ways to eliminate roadblocks to make each persons work more efficient
To remain loyal to suppliers that provide us with innovative and quality products and services that are competitively priced and delivered on time
To accept and embrace change that will better serve our customers, associates and community, and give us a competitive advantage
And, to deliver without compromise what we promise to each other and to our customers