Its designation as an essential services provider during the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in ASP Fire attending to requests for assistance countrywide, from Tzaneen in the north to Pinetown in the East and Cape Town in the South. “ASP Fire has always maintained a strong service-based relation with its clients. This has resulted in a number of new referrals by existing clients. These have generally been in regions that we already service, so it has been fairly easy to assist them,” comments CEO Michael van Niekerk.
In addition to its existing client base, ASP Fire has established a strong reputation in the agricultural, food processing and packaging sectors. “We have grown as a result of the general expansion in these industries and in particular the investment into the agri industry.” Another key focus is developing performance-based rational designs accommodating the latest innovations. “Our experience in special-risk, high-hazard industries where rational design solutions are essential helps us stay at the forefront of being able to provide modern, risk-appropriate fire-safety designs,” explains van Niekerk.
While investment and development in several industries has been adversely affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, insurers have become more risk-adverse as a result. This has allowed ASP Fire to continue on an upwards trajectory as it assists clients under pressure to conform to critical fire regulations. “Our strong relationships will also aid us in maintaining the work that we do in those areas,” adds van Niekerk.
Despite the adverse business climate, ASP Fire took on two new fire engineers at the end of 2020, and also awarded a bursary to a black female mechanical engineering student. While the new hires have “both dived in straightaway”, van Niekerk expresses his excitement that the sponsored student will “grow and develop into a future fire engineer.”
He highlights: “ASP Fire continues to leverage its unique ability to convey the requirements and technical details of fire-protection systems to clients in easy-to-understand terms. We provide solutions that manage fire risks as low as reasonably possible, while balancing cash flow with operational constraints. We always visit our clients to make sure that we understand their businesses and processes.”
With the national focus increasingly on hospital capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, van Niekerk points out two main risks that contribute to the danger of a fire in a healthcare facility. These are the presence of oxygen and bedridden persons. A small fire will develop rapidly in the presence of a supply of pressurised pure oxygen, putting the lives of people who are already very sick in danger. While fire prevention is the obvious solution, one also needs to ensure that an automatic fire detection system and suitable means for fire suppression are always available at hand.
Looking to the future, van Niekerk concludes: “ASP Fire continues to grow, focusing on developments in fire-safety design and industries where special risks are commonplace. We aim to steadily grow our capability to be the leader in fire engineering through the development of world-class performance-based fire rational designs.”