Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brandon Makes Fire Code Changes

The City of Brandon Fire and Emergency Services has released some changes to their fire codes. I have to take a moment to applaud their progressive step. Improvements to fire codes may sometimes seem cumbersome, but there are constant changes in everything we do from new materials created, new products on the market, and new ways of manufacturing the changes are constant, and codes need to change with them. How many people send their children to after school jobs expecting them to come home safely, I know I do, fire codes and regulations help keep everyone safe.

Copies of these new By-Laws are available. Please feel free to contact me and I’ll send them to you.

There is protection within the herd!

The City Of Brandon By-Law for the Installation/Alteration/Maintenance of Pre-Engineered Fixed Extinguishing SystemsThe City of Brandon By-Law for the Inspection/Cleaning of Commercial Cooking Exhaust Equipment

Posted by Rob Read at 2:37 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Recognition Is Awesome

I wrote yesterday about our participation in the Manitoba Bold initiative being spearheaded by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, and our participation in the Technology Adoption Pilot Program. I was flattered at the time to be approached by Martin Cash the Business Columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press, then surprised when a photographer arrived at our office, and floored when the article “Groomed for Growth” appeared this morning in the business section.

The support we are receiving from The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, BDC, and Quantus Software is fantastic, but the feedback from the Winnipeg business community is truly humbling, and I can’t express enough how much Emile, and I appreciate it. I have said many times that Winnipeg is a big small town, and were proud to be a part of it!

There is protection within the herd!

Posted by Rob Read at 9:53 AM 1 Comments

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Manitoba BOLD Technology Adoption Pilot Program

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce introduced the Manitoba BOLD Technology Adoption Pilot Program to over 90 guests this morning. Speakers included Dave Angus of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Gail Blanchette of BDC, Ray Hope of Quantus Software, Ron Koslowsky of CME Manitoba, Michael Selei of BDC, Rob Read, and Emile Jolicoeur of Bison Fire Protection.

We are the first company to have joined the program and were asked to provide a testimonial describing what led to our decision to join the pilot, and how we see this adoption of technology allowing us to continue to build, and grow our company.

This was a great opportunity to showcase the Manitoba BOLD initiative that the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce has launched, and once again demonstrates the true leadership that Manitoba entrepreneurs have. To have four corporations coming together to help small/medium businesses grow, and compete nationally and internationally is fantastic. The future is BOLD!

The purpose of the pilot program is to:

•           Identify financial and operational constraints due to a lack of technology adoption

•           Address these constraints through business automation and efficiencies that deliver a defined ROI & value creation for exit strategies

•           Demonstrate the measurable impact that technology adoption creates for Manitoba manufacturers and service providers

Target audience for this pilot program is:

•           Manufacturing & Service-based companies that have a large inventory component

•           Annual company sales between $2M and $20M, with a track record of continued growth

•           Financial & Operational performance being adversely impacted by operational issues

Pilot program format:

•           Phase 1 – Business Assessment

o          BDC – Financial Diagnostic and  Performance Evaluation

o          Quantus – Process Flow and Operational Assessment

o          CME – Lean Assessment

•           Phase 2 – Technology Adoption & Process Improvement

o          Implement business automation

o          Implement process improvements

o          6-month Re-assessment (optional)

o          12-month Re-assessment (optional)

Benefits for Participants:

•           Detailed review of company processes & performance and identify opportunities for improvement

•           Performed by a collaborative group of industry experts

•           Business Intelligence, increased growth, and value creation for exit strategies

For more information please contact:

JP Madden                                                                  Gail Blanchette

VP, Business Development                                        Partner Consulting

Quantus Software                                                       Business Development Bank of Canada

Phone: (204) 478-1308                                               Phone: (204) 983-6951    

Email: JPMadden@quantussoftware.com                  Email: gail.blanchette@bdc.ca

There is protection within the herd!

Emile Jolicoeur Speaking at the MB BOLD Technology LaunchRob Read Speaking at the MB BOLD Technology Launch

Posted by Rob Read at 2:22 PM 0 Comments

Friday, October 12, 2012

Foam Is A Viable Alternative

Winnipeg is home to a very diverse economy. The people here are very industrious to say the least. I’m always amazed when I’m invited into someone’s business to see some new product being manufactured here and shipped worldwide. There is a true spirit of entrepreneurship in Manitoba. This diversification leads to a variety of different type’s hazards, and equally diverse fire protection needs.

A couple of weeks ago there was a major fire in methanol fuel distribution centre here in Winnipeg. Fortunately nobody was hurt in the incident but a few lessons can be taken from this disaster. I was reading the article on the Global News website, and a couple of things jumped out at me. The first being “Around 5 p.m., a fire alarm went off” this tells me there was fire detection in the building, and it worked as designed. Secondly The National Post reported “Eventually, special airport fire trucks were brought in to put foam on the fire, and before long the flames looked to be subsiding.” What this tells me is that if there had been a Foam fire suppression system installed in the building this disaster could have been avoided, there may not have been a $15 million dollar loss, and 8 people unemployed.

Fire-fighting foam is foam used for fire suppression. Its role is to cool the fire and to coat the fuel, preventing its contact with oxygen, resulting in suppression of the combustion. Class B foams are designed for class B fires flammable liquids such as the methanol at the distribution centre. There are 2 types of foams that could have been used, and a full assessment of the hazards would determine which the best choice is. This 500 Gallon Foam System promo video gives an idea of one type of system.

Synthetic foams are based on synthetic surfactants. Synthetic foams provide better flow and faster knockdown of flames, but limited post-fire security.

Aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) are water-based and frequently contain hydrocarbon-based surfactant such as sodium alkyl sulfate, and fluorosurfactant. They have the ability to spread over the surface of hydrocarbon-based liquids. Alcohol-resistant aqueous film-forming foams (AR-AFFF) are foams resistant to the action of alcohols, able to form a protective film when they are present.

Protein foams contain natural proteins as the foaming agents. Unlike synthetic foams, protein foams are bio-degradable. They flow and spread slower, but provide a foam blanket that is more heat-resistant and more durable. Protein Foam from non-animal sources is preferred because of the possible threats of biological contaminants.

I can’t turn back time to show that a Foam system would have worked, but the indicators are there that a foam suppression system would have activated before the fire had a chance to become involved, and this would never have become a story, more likely a small insurance claim, clean up, and get back to work. I’m sure everyone involved would have preferred this outcome.

There is protection within the herd!

Alcohol FireFoam System Components

Posted by Rob Read at 11:00 AM 0 Comments

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bison Fire & BDC In Business

I have mentioned in the previous post "BDC Provides Support" our working relationship with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). They have been a fantastic support for us as we transition from a small to medium sized company. I was surprised when they contacted me a few weeks ago about doing an article about our growth.

We take a lot of pride in our work, and it’s great to be recognized by a national company, and highlighted in their “In Business” newsletter.

Enjoy the article.

Bison Fire Protection: A burning desire to grow

 

October 7, 2012

Rob Read, co-President, Bison Fire Protection

Rob Read and Émile Jolicoeur had big plans for the future when they acquired a small fire extinguisher maintenance company a decade ago.

But the co-Presidents of Winnipeg-based Bison Fire Protection didn’t realize the challenges they would face as the company rapidly expanded into lines such as alarms, sprinkler systems and fire protection services.

“Growing is trickier than it looks,” says Read, whose company has progressed to 50 employees from five when he and Jolicoeur took over.

“At first, our success depended on how well we worked. But as we added more people, how well we manage became just as important.”

Read identified four productivity-enhancing initiatives that Bison Fire Protection has undertaken to build its competitive position and grow successfully.

Hire mid-level managers—Owners of smaller businesses generally have direct relationships with most, if not all, of their employees. However as Bison Fire Protection grew, it became harder for Read and Jolicoeur to manage those relationships. The partners eventually realized that integrating a management team was an important next step. They brought in an operations manager and a controller to implement and maintain effective financial information systems. In addition, they empowered front line personnel to take more responsibility.

Implement new technology and processes—Like most businesses, fire protection companies need to adopt new technology to keep ahead of the competition. This plays out at Bison in two ways. First, the company strives to offer customers the latest innovations in fire protection and suppression gear. Just as importantly, it also uses technology to help boost employee productivity through such steps as issuing iPads to workers in the field to improve work and document flow.

Grow but carefully—Losing control is one of the biggest threats to the health of a growing business. Read and Jolicoeur have avoided that trap by taking a patient approach to new projects. Before making their next move, they have taken the time to integrate major changes such as expanding into Saskatchewan and acquiring Thompson Extinguisher, a company that took them into the lucrative mining sector.

Consult with experts—Read is a believer in using outside management consultants for help in areas where he and his partner have less expertise. For example Bison Fire Protection recently retained BDC Consulting to perform an organizational diagnostic and recommend key changes, notably hiring personnel.

Despite Bison Fire Protection’s success, the company isn’t resting on its laurels. Read and Jolicoeur are on the lookout for new lines of business to add and plan to begin distributing and installing electronic card access systems.

There is protection in the herd!

Posted by Rob Read at 9:21 AM 0 Comments

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The International Mining Show

The International Mining Show was held over a 3 day period last week, and it did not disappoint. The show runs once every 4 years and because of this manufacturers and suppliers have a really solid opportunity to showcase new products. It took us 2 full days to walk the entire show and see every exhibit you can imagine and a few you can’t, that support the mining industry.

One of the booths we had to stop at was the Ansul booth. They were very happy to see us and excited to show the new products they were launching at the show. Ansul is releasing 2 new detection actuation systems that will allow even more flexibility for agent release, and detection, but will also be even more operator friendly, and compact in a tight drivers cab. These systems are available in a conventional type as well as addressable. These kinds of innovations add serious value to fire protection systems.

We were also happy to see products we had sold and installed on different machines at the show. We take a lot of pride in our work, and to see it displayed at a show of this caliber is very rewarding.

According to Manitoba Mineral resources “The mining and petroleum industries make up Manitoba's second largest primary resource industry. In 2011, the combined value of mineral production for metals ($1.65 billion), industrial minerals ($188 million) and petroleum ($1.26 billion) totalled over $3 billion. The industries employ an average of 5,800 workers directly, with many more in indirect jobs and generating millions of dollars in spin-off business.”

Mining is big business in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and we had a very close look at what helps drive that industry. I loaded a number of pictures on the Bison Fire Face Book page to give a better idea of some of the equipment used for mining, and while you probably won’t see some of these toys around Manitoba, you will find a few.

There is protection within the herd!

Bison Fire Supplied Ansul Red Line ExtinguisherBison Fire Supplied Ansul A-101-30 Fire SystemAnsuls HologramEmile Jolicoeur, Doug Bailey, Rob Read True Fire Protection Specialists

Posted by Rob Read at 3:45 PM 0 Comments