Largest supplier of fire-suppression solutions in Africa boasts 80% local content

21st August 2017

Fire & Security Techniques of Centurion is Africa’s largest supplier of fire-suppression solutions. It also boasts 80% local content in its extensive product range, which complies with the relevant pressure equipment regulations, as well as SANS 347:2012 and SAN14520.

In addition, the company works closely with both its clients and installers to ensure adequate project support, which also extends to system commissioning. “We also strongly advocate independent third-party inspection, including room-integrity testing,” explains Fire & Security Techniques CEO Neil Hughes.

The company was established in 1994 by founder Neil Hughes Snr. “At that time, Halon was being phased out, and there was a range of new products launched onto the market, with manufacturers jostling for alternatives and increased market share as a result,” Hughes explains.
He adds that the industry has become well-regulated since, thanks to the ongoing efforts of the South African Qualification & Certification Committee (SAQCC) Fire Safety, the Fire Detection Installers’ Association (FDIA), and the Fire Systems Inspection Bureau (FSIB).

Commenting on the impact of the Montreal Protocol on the industry, and most recently the Kigali Amendment, Hughes comments that hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are unlikely to be affected due to ongoing supply-and-demand pressure. In addition, HFCs play a prominent role in refrigeration, with HFC125 and HFC227 themselves being the raw materials for next-generation hydrofluroolefins (HFOs).

Fire suppression itself only accounts for a minuscule portion of the total HFC market, which means the environmental impact is not as marked as that of refrigeration. Commenting on the latest trends, Hughes predicts that suppliers are likely to increase HFC prices faced with the introduction of new products based on fluorinated ketones, for example.

A highlight of Fire & Security Techniques’ development to date has been building its own cylinder production plant. “I am very proud of that division within the company,” Hughes reveals. “A few years later we purchased an engineering company to be our OEM arm for our local products, and now boast 80% local content as a result. Recently we were instrumental in setting up our local LPG cylinder plant, producing up to 50 000 cylinders from a 500 m2 factory.”

This forms part of a strategic plan to decentralise both the business itself and production. “The new approach will give us a better means of measuring the market and client requirements. Furthermore, it will drive down our costs, and allow us to focus on exports.” In this regard, the Fire & Security Techniques product range is undergoing international approval.

“We hope to open up new markets up with our simple-to-use products and our high level of certification.”

In addition, Fire & Security Techniques has enjoyed strong partnership with Fire-Eater of Denmark since 2006, which distributes the world-renowned Inergen fire-suppression technology. “Our aim is to exploit our natural synergy with Fire-Eater in order to maximise our opportunities in Africa, predicated on our strong technical capability,” Hughes elaborates.

“We are targeting new markets and application spaces constantly by means of our well-resourced design team. For example, we recently developed a new application for suppressing cold-storage fires. We also offer our clients a unique 24/7 quotation system,” Hughes highlights. Looking at some of the latest trends, there is an increased focus on systems applicable to unclosable openings. “Fire-suppression systems are evolving continuously, in tandem with the mainstream market, which continues to be dominated by water-sprinkler systems.”

Hughes concludes: “Having lead this business for the last 20 years, I have had lots of experience with the evolution of both the market and its dominant players.

Understanding the dynamics of any changes has allowed me to lead a solid team of highly-technical experts with extensive experience. Having access to global resources will allow us to continue to shape the business well into the future.”