Roger Carr, managing director of the British patent-holding manufacturer Britannia Fire Ltd – and the inventor of the world-leading P50 fire extinguisher – donated a £10,000 cheque, on behalf of The Fire Fighters Charity, to Emyr Gough, group manager of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.
‘Firefighters continue to risk their lives to save others every day,’ says Roger Carr. ‘We wanted to honour their heroics and – due to the success of Britannia Fire and the P50 – we were able to do that with a respectable donation.’
The cheque was presented on 16 August at the Diamond Jubilee Fire & Rescue Station in Carrow, Norfolk – where Britannia Fire is based.
Supporting the UK fire services community
The Fire Fighters Charity provides specialist, lifelong support to serving and retired members of the UK fire services community, including the Fire Services Youth Scheme, volunteers and former fire personnel with five years’ service.
Emyr Gough says: ‘I can assure you, these funds will be well spent. The Fire Fighters Charity doesn’t get any government money, but it does much of the work you would associate with being publicly funded. It’s gratifying that this comes from the company that invented the P50, which is a game-changer of a fire extinguisher.’
The P50 fire extinguisher
Since 1970, Britannia Fire has continued to innovate to deliver safer and more sustainable products for its customers, helping to save lives and the environment.
Britannia Fire’s low-maintenance P50 fire extinguisher is greener, lighter, safer and stronger in comparison to traditional metal fire extinguishers.
The P50 can be used on different types of fires, such as ordinary combustibles (for example, cloth, wood, paper, rubber and many plastics), flammable liquids and live electrical equipment. This versatile product eliminates the need for numerous fire extinguishers on-site, removing the risk of personnel using an incorrect extinguisher for any given application.
Each P50 fire extinguisher has a ten-year guarantee. At the end of its 20-year life, every part of the extinguisher, excluding only foam contents, can be recycled or reused. As the P50 doesn’t require an engineer’s service each year, carbon footprint will also be significantly reduced.
The man behind Britannia Fire’s P50
Roger Carr established Britannia Fire in 1970, servicing and selling fire extinguishers.
In 2009, he created the world’s first composite plastic fire extinguisher – the P50 – which is now exported around the world.
In 1980, he designed the innovative ‘Key Range’ extinguishers – named because they used a locking key to hold the head in place. Roger achieved a patent on one of its main features, the balance valve, which ensures the CO2 cartridge and main cylinder pressures are equalised before opening, hence improving the flow of powder from the extinguisher. A 1985 development of this design, the Britannia Fire range, is still sold worldwide to this day.
After selling his firm, UK Fire International, in 2006, Roger came up with another idea: ‘I thought to myself, I must find a product that has less of a requirement for service and maintenance. Governments wanted less pollution, and I also wanted to see how companies could cut their visits to customers.
‘I worked on a criterion that all metal extinguishers required maintenance, or they would corrode and become dangerous. I wanted to make something that overcame this fundamental weakness.
‘Whilst reading a magazine on a plane, I read about composite material being placed into the new Airbus 280. I thought it was a tremendously strong product, so I started designing the P50 – which wouldn’t corrode during its working lifetime.’
Today, Heathrow Airport, Morrisons and BP are all current users of the P50.
The Fire Fighters Charity case study: Robert Cowie
Following his battle with Crohn’s disease, firefighter Robert Cowie has received online and face-to-face support from The Fire Fighters Charity.
The 36-year-old, who’s always been fit and healthy throughout his career at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, was forced to take months off work following a Crohn’s disease diagnosis. However, thanks to generous donations, Robert has received support both face-to-face and at Jubilee House – the charity’s centre in Cumbria. He is now back at work.
‘It all started when I was taken in for emergency surgery in 2019. I had to have parts of my bowel removed as it was blocked and enlarged,’ says Robert. ‘Eight weeks later, I was back in again with other issues and complications, and that’s when they diagnosed me with Crohn’s.
“It started this whole chain reaction. You’re on steroids, then on new drugs and then learning to deal with a chronic illness that you’ll have for the rest of your life.’
Robert was determined not to let Crohn’s stop him from living a fulfilling life, so he got in touch with The Fire Fighters Charity.
He began a series of remote video calls with one of the charity’s physiotherapists and was also offered a stay at Jubilee House, but unfortunately the pandemic hit before he was able to visit.
‘From then on I was shielding,’ says Robert. ‘It was August 2020 before I got back into the station.
‘In February 2021, I ended up with a large abscess in my abdomen, connected to the Crohn’s. It got so painful that I had to go to A&E. Luckily work had given me a laptop, so I did a lot of admin in the interim whilst I was offsite.’
Around this time, Robert’s health battle was not only impacting him physically but mentally as well. He contacted The Fire Fighters Charity, which led to him working with the charity remotely and staying at Jubilee House for a week.
‘I had all these professional physiotherapists and exercise therapists around me, plus all other workshops and sessions I could get involved in,’ says Robert.
‘The group I had was amazing. There were a couple of male firefighters, retired male firefighters and women – one who was a partner of a firefighter and an ex-chief.’
Although he was able to start his recovery from home, Robert found his stay at the centre helpful because he could push himself more, knowing he was around professionals who were responsible for him.
Following his success at Jubilee House, the charity sent a report to Robert’s occupational health team, which led to him eventually returning to operational work.
Charity begins at home
Any donation, such as the recent contribution from Britannia Fire, made to The Fire Fighters Charity, can help keep the charity operating to support people like Robert Cowie.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental or physical health or social wellbeing, you can make an enquiry about support via www.firefighterscharity.org.uk
For more information, go to www.britannia-fire.co.uk