Saturday , 20 April 2019

Fierce about fire safety

With awareness of fire safety improving, it is steady progress in business for Russel Faleiro, founder of Gosafe, a fire safety company, finds out Shoma Patnaik

National Fire Service Day observed on April 14 put the spotlight on Goa’s small fire safety services and equipment industry. The local industry although compact is witnessing unwavering growth in business in recent years. There are about 10 firms offering fire safety solutions and ground level check reveals that demand for their products and services is growing thanks to improving awareness about fires.

Located in Fatorda, Gosafe Fire Security and Safety, founded by Russel Faleiro is an established player in the business of fighting fires. The company established in 2011 and in the last seven years is quite successful in retaining its clients and maintaining a steady order book.  Faleiro, who is a mechanical engineer and a first generation entrepreneur, says that he got into the fire safety business by design after spending 18 years working in Dubai with fire equipment manufacturers.

“After I returned to Goa and deciding to be in business, I was certain that my venture would have something to do with fire safety due to my past experience in the field.” The firm currently employs six people and it has made firm progress in its mission of making the surroundings fire safe, he says.

He points out that, the initial years of starting out were tough and it took about two years for the business to stabilize. “It took me time to get introduced to the market but support from friends and knowledge of the industry helped to lessen the growing pains,” he says.

Today Gosafe is an approved fire security and safety company. It specializes in turnkey projects for industrial as well as commercial properties and operates under the motto ‘service after sales.’ “All our products and systems sold are supported by a fully equipped workshop and maintenance team,” explains Faleiro.

The company  is a turnkey fire systems contractor offering a wide range of project design and execution. Its customers are primarily industrial plants located in Verna and Kundaim industrial estates, offices, shopping complexes, hospitals, clinics and commercial establishments. “Virtually all our customers are in the corporate and commercial segment and over the years we have done only one private villa,” he reveals.

Knowledgeable about the local fire safety market, he points out that,   it is a challenge in educating people on usage of basic fire safety equipment. Most people are frightened of using equipment in times of fire. “Customers buy equipment but do not know how to use it. So with each of our clients we conduct a basic awareness session so that staff is trained to handle the equipment. Having experienced some major fires in recent months, he adds that, it is high time the government protects its own buildings for the safety of its staff and equipment.

“All government buildings are well equipped with fire alarm systems, fire hydrants, fire pumps, fire extinguishers etc at the time of construction however none of them are maintained which is a major concern and it really needs attention from those responsible,” points out Faleiro.  He adds that, all casinos are high hazard properties and should have a proper system to avoid any disaster. They should be made to provide third part risk analysis report in order to ensure that the concerned authorities do not overlook the important issue of fire safety on board.

He says that, the upcoming segment is safety of digital content. “Modern society is highly dependent on the ability to communicate and to access data instantaneously. Vast amounts of digital content are stored in multiple locations and retrieved transparently by the user. Even small fires in IT/ telecom centers or server rooms of companies can result in significant data loss and service interruption. Faleiro points out that his company is making significant strides in bagging orders for fire safety in server rooms of local industries.

For the lay persons, there are tips to fight fires.  “In case of a fire the first thing you should do is to try and inform others as quickly as possible. Second, check what has happened. If you can fight the fire, do it. But if you can’t, evacuate and help other people evacuate,” is his advice.

He explains that, in a fire situation 90 per cent deaths are due to smoke inhalation hence a well ventilated premise will always have less casualties. With the growing fire hazards knowing how to use a fire extinguisher is a need of an hour hence everyone at some point should be trained to tackle a small fire and not go into a panic mode.

“If the fire is contained in a small area like a waste bin and you have a fire extinguisher near you and you know how to use it, just do it. If you are sure that there is no one left in the room that’s on fire, close the door but do not lock it. Fire consumes oxygen in a contained space and additional oxygen from another room fuels. Also if you close the door, chances of fire or smoke spreading to the other rooms are minimized,” he says.

As for the future, he is upbeat about prospects. “When we first started it all looked a distant dream however as time passed by we see a good response from all angles with lot of encouragement from the fire and emergency department.”

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