NEWTON ABBOT-BASED Firewatch is going from strength to strength with a new accreditation, restructure and expansion.
Firewatch was the first company in the UK to achieve dual accreditation for BAFE SP 203-1 Fire Alarm design, installation and maintenance as well as for fire extinguisher supply and maintenance BAFE SP101 incorporating the ST104 Extinguisher Technician licensing.
Group CEO Martin Smith has now announced that the company has added the new BAFE SP205-Part 1 scheme (Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment), to its list of UKAS accreditation schemes.
BAFE (British Approvals for Fire Equipment) is the benchmark for the fire safety industry, with the implementation of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and places the duty for employers and premises owners to engage suitably qualified and third party inspected companies to manage their fire safety provision.
The business has grown primarily from recommendation since it was formed in 1998.
It now has more than 45 employees based throughout the South West and recently the Midlands to fulfil its extended contract with Western Power Distribution.
Its client base of more than 2,500 customers ranges from small corner shops to large blue chip clients such as Western Power Distribution, Gingsters and the Westward Housing Group.
Martin Smith said: "We continue to invest in our employees, My fellow directors and I believe, as a service driven company, we feel it is essential that to grow the business we have to almost daily improve our knowledge and expertise to ensure we give the very best advice.
"In difficult economic times, training budgets are generally cut, not with Firewatch, with over £5,000 in training scheduled for 2013.
"Like all businesses you have to evolve and at Firewatch it is no different.
We are close to completing a restructuring of the group.
"Earlier in the year we completed the sale of our interest in Total Event Hire Ltd to existing shareholders Robin Hammond and Rob Freeman. Total Event Hire was under the Firewatch umbrella for over five years and despite the erratic economic times of the last few years continued to grow its client base and excellent reputation.
"But, it didn't fit in with where my fellow directors and I saw as the future of the Group.
"Our foray into UK Manufacturing through Vander Clothing, ended disappointedly, having to succumb to the difficult economic climate, with no support from banks and so called government initiatives - whilst it ended up costly for us personally, nobody else was out of pocket."
He added: "Firewatch continues to grow other aspects of the business, primarily Asigns our bespoke sign making division. It is having its best ever period of trading now under manager of Andrew Harvey, our fire door maintenance division Brunel Maintenance has a nigh on full order book until the end of October."
"Another innovation we have pursued is working closely with partner firms such as Sherwood's. Like us, an independent family owned and run business offering a range of planned maintenance services, including plumbing, air conditioning; the perfect solution for clients seeking a one-stop-shop service.
"Conscious of the current trend of making contact through emails and social media, Firewatch continue to send out monthly informative newsletters, but is also going back to putting a face in front of existing customers and potential new ones.
"To achieve this we have promoted from within the company by appointing Mark Harris to business development executive.
"An experienced fire safety professional, Mark will visit clients new and old to explain the many services that Firewatch can provide."
Other new faces this year include Jo Coombe, who joined Firewatch earlier in the year to bolster the busy fire alarm division office administration.
Peter Baxter joined the company as a fire extinguisher technician. Peter is new to the industry, and he has completed his training under the watchful eye of Mark Harris and will be completing his BAFE examination in the autumn.
The fire alarm division has recruited Alfie Binyon an experienced fire alarm engineer with many skills including advanced commissioning.
The last 'new' employee is Geoff Baker, who retired in July only to come back part time to help with the increased workload following the company winning new contracts.
Martin Smith concluded: "By the end of the year we will have consolidated all our operations to under one roof into our head office of 9,000 sq ft on the Brunel Industrial Estate in Newton Abbot.
"This includes a complete refurbishment of our offices and transferring our fire equipment stores, with a new Asign showroom and enlarged production room.
"In summary, the announcement of the new BAFE accreditation SP205-1 and the group restructuring demonstrates the desire of Firewatch to serve its clients, invest in its employees and continue to grow the business, ensuring the sustainability of Firewatch for the future."