The big, red fire truck is outdated. A guy on a motorcycle carrying the latest technology from Firexpress is all you need to extinguish accidental fires. The small piece of fire fighting equipment he is carrying is a pump that can send a mist of water several meters away in the direction of the fire instead of the big amount of water which was needed in the old days. This mist is able to extinguish the fire just as well as if not better!
Henrik Naaby, Managaing Director of FireXpress, is working hard to introduce this simple concept in the whole region. The aim is to enable firefighters in Thailand as well as in other countries in Asia to fight fires faster, safer and more effective while using less water resources.
Add a little water
Fireexpress’ patented technology is a nozzle that controls water in ways traditional firefighting methods cannot.
“One of the founders of Firexpress worked as safety and security officer within Scandinavian Airlines and also as a volunteer firefighter in a local municipality”, says Henrik Naaby. “Through his work he could see that often fast-response vehicles could have saved a house from burning down. Controlling a fire is very much a matter of when to start extinguishing it, and having big, slow fire trucks does not always result in a fast response”, Henrik Naaby explains.
“Using micro-droplets along with low water pressure creates the problem of how to get the micro-droplets “carried” a good distance so firefighting can take place a safe distance from the fire. A special nozzle for creating micro-droplets and sending them at least 10- 15 meters away from the nozzle had to be developed,” Henrik says about the system that can be operated by a single person on a motorcycle.
The Firexpress system is very effective on a wide variety of fires. “But it cannot completely replace traditional firefighting methods as it is unusable for fighting fires in tall buildings from the ground”, he says.
One little soldier
Since its introduction in early 1998, the Firexpress system is now widely used in Scandinavia . The fire brigades in Denmark are now commonly using the system with good results. In order to launch effective first strike attacks, the fire brigades have installed Firexpress units in many of their lighter rescue vehicles.
“The military in the EU have fully adopted the concept as well as NATO and UN forces from Norway , Holland , Denmark , and the UK use the system as fire protection for their brigades in combat hot spots”, Henrik says.
“The concept is being used by police forces in many countries and has proven its strength during riots and other emergencies, where the fire brigades are unable to get to fires due to crowds of people. A very recent example was in Copenhagen , where heavy riots resulted in burning cars, containers, and other property. The Danish police had many Firexpress units in operation and later they called and asked to get three more units for immediate use”, he says.
Worldwide fire fighting
The company has focused its attention on Europe for many years now and saw most of its initial growth there. There has been a good acceptance of the technology in Europe , which has proved to be a good base to move into the rest of the world. The growth spots currently are shifting – to markets like Mexico , the Middle East and Southeast Asia . Markets like Hong Kong , Taiwan and China have also very readily shifted to this technology.
“We have many different customers all over the world. Firefighters, for example, use the concept as fast response vehicles like motorcycles and ATV’s or as integrated units in fire trucks. Hong Kong was one of the first to use the Firexpress concept as a fully integrated part of its fire service department and they currently have more than 60 units in operation”, Henrik says.
“Industrial customers in all different segments use Firexpress. Our latest big customer is the world largest producer of semiconductors, CMO from Taiwan , who just decided to use Firexpress for all eight of their large factories,” he adds.
Firexpress aiming for Thailand
Henrik explains that approximately 90 percent of the sales in Firexpress today are related to two products, sharing the market equally. The company now has started production in Thailand of one of these products, produced for non-EU customers. This product uses a pressurized tank that is currently waiting EU certification to be exported to there as well. Following that development, further production will be shifted to Thailand . The company’s operations in Thailand are kept relatively lean, but the bulk of the manufacturing is outsourced to subcontractors.
“So far we have approached the governmental sector but it’s slow to penetrate. There is definitely a demand all over Thailand and a lot of cities could use Firexpress equipment to make their fire protection more efficient”, Henrik estimates.
“However budgets and willingness do not always go hand in hand. We have started to sell to the private sector as well, but many people have the funny idea that ‘it is always my neighbor who has problems.’ So fire prevention is not a key issue in many companies and lack of knowledge of how little you can do fighting a fire with a hand extinguisher or a water hose has given people a false sense that their companies are well protected”, he explains.
A burning gasoline pool in Bangkok
“I am confident that the Thai market will be one of our big markets within the next couple of years. People do understand the efficiency of the Firexpress concept once seen, so it’s only a matter of time before we sell on a big scale. Actually a recent demonstration north of Bangkok again showed the efficiency. We made identical fires of burning tires and a gasoline pool. I extinguished one of the fires with 65 liters of water while the fire fighters using a fire truck had to use 3,000 liters to take the same fire out in almost the same amount of time,” he says.
“The main reasons for choosing Thailand as our base for Southeast Asia are the positive business environment existing here, the fact that Bangkok is a good hub with flight connections to most of the countries in the region as well as to Europe and also the culture. My family and I had been on holiday here quit a few times prior to moving so it was fairly easy to make the decision. We moved here in September 2005 and started the company’s operations,” he says. Henrik travels abroad between 60 and 80 days per year as the company opens in new markets and to assist the company’s agents and distributors.
“My wife understands the challenge as she has, to an extent, the same kind of personality as I do. Being a partner and shareholder in the company is a big challenge and after working many years as ‘employed’, I find that this job has become my life. That is especially true now as I have been involved with the company from its earliest beginnings and see it grow. Fortunately, we are on our way”, says Henrik who also has three sons with him in Thailand . He, his wife and oldest son also scuba dive together. “We became certified scuba divers some years ago. But beside sports, there are so many nice places to go to here in Thailand during the weekends and experience nature, which is so different from what we are used to in Denmark .
“Thai culture is magnificent and we all enjoy living here very much,” he added, “ Thailand offers so many good experiences – life here is good”, Henrik Naaby states.