Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter OBE, Coltraco Ultrasonics, outlines how the UK can once again become global leader in the fire industry

The economist Adam Smith described the role of Government in free markets as its “hidden hand”, to protect against its worst excesses. David Ricardo the great political economist brought us the “law of comparative advantage”, whilst Richard Cobden, a manufacturer and philosopher, described free trade as “uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace”.

The UK Fire sector reflects these. Its regulatory framework is its “safety hand”. To the second it specialises and to the 3rd it competes to generate innovation and commercial benefit. We are managing COVID-19 and Brexit and UK GDP is 8.8% lower and up to 2.7m people may be unemployed, nearing 9% of our 32m workforce. The UK needs to plan.

British & Global Prosperity are Linked

National prosperity generates societal cohesion and domestic stability. It finances our collective security and delivers global stability as the pre-requisites of global prosperity. The UK fire sector designs, develops, manufactures and creates specialist services for domestic and export markets, just as Government create global opportunity. 72% of UK exports go to 15 countries and the USA is its largest market. The opportunities to “export more” are abundant.

The UK-EU Treaty generated the largest free trade agreement has signed. The UK completed 60+ Free Trade Agreements and Continuity & Economic Partnership Agreements which covers 63% of UK global trade. The UK is the world’s 5th largest economy and the 5th largest exporter overall. The fire sector can be at that “top table” too.

If we aim to accede to Asia’s CPTPP, our share of global trade will be 15%, whilst EU share declines to 14% without the UK. By 2030 the Asia-Pacific will comprise 50% of global trade. Joining CPTPP places the UK at Asia’s heart, championing free trade, delivering stability, security and prosperity, while upholding the rules-based international system.

The UK is one of 2 nations with a strategic 5th generation global maritime power projection capability. It’s also one of only 5 members of the UN Security Council with a strategic submarine-based deterrent, with the 2nd largest diplomatic network and a member of more MLO’s than any other. As a member of the Five Eyes, the world’s most powerful security grouping, and our special relationship with the USA, the UK fire sector can export more!

Alongside these are “softer” capabilities. Our “development super-power” status and our educational lead. Of the world’s top 10 universities 4 of them are ours. We currently generate more Nobel Prizes for Science at 1 Cambridge College than the whole of a neighbouring nation. London is as New York is to finance – the two leading global centres.

Made in England – The Rule of Law

Parliament is the “Mother” of so many others, and the rule of law within it enables the relationship between Monarchy, Parliament, the rule of law and the people. Our originating absolute Monarchy created the basis for today’s rule of law in the Magna Carta, making Monarch and subject equal, so our Parliament is populated by “us” – equal before its laws. Rule of law is the greatest equal opportunity.

If the world sees the UK as its essential partner, why do we not understand our component parts?

Core Capabilities & Core Values for our Industry

There are 8 core UK capabilities and only the USA replicates them. Firstly, defence, diplomacy, security and development. Secondly, trade, finance, the intellectual and the cultural. Each underpinned by 8 UK values, democracy, institutions, the Union of the United Kingdom, history, public service, society, family and regulated Free Markets & Free Trade. So, the Governments reach into global trade and FTA’s is a core national value.

We are in FTA negotiations with the USA, Australia and NZ, and have already signed agreements with Japan, Canada and 60 others globally. Within these are SME chapters, creating a forum for UK innovation and growth.

Be Excellent

Through designing and manufacturing the world’s greatest fire systems, and exporting them to global markets, there is an opportunity to show the quality and standards of the UK fire market.

Great standards increase prosperity. British Standards are engineering-based, this is the reason why the International Standards Organisations appointed the United Kingdom as its Delegated Authority in BS EN ISO 14520, Gaseous Extinguishing Systems.

Global Britain & The British Dream

Global Britain, our “invisible hand”, enabling global and national prosperity. The UK fire industry can become the global fire sectors “hidden hand”.

The American Dream believes that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American Dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.

The British Dream believes in the common good, and the elevation of the condition of our people at home and overseas. We see global prosperity as our national interest, to generate national success in the form of domestic stability, societal cohesion, national and global prosperity. It offers shared national endeavour.

The UK Fire Sector & Global Security

Opportunities are boundless if we return to the excellence that created our global reputation to a time when British Standards were relied upon globally.

The Government’s levelling-up agenda applies overseas. 1bn people have been lifted from extreme poverty through free trade over 30 years. Today, at the FCDO, a stated policy is to tackle global poverty, disease, migration, insecurity and conflict. “Our work is building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for people in developing countries and in the UK too.” The UK fire sector can cease its opportunity.

Can we succeed post-COVID19?

We can. In 1945 the UK at home created the NHS, free education, the Welfare State and equality for women under the law, whilst overseas we created the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, an equal member Commonwealth and NATO itself.

Thus, when it may be tempted to focus on the domestic, it is vital to prioritise the global. By leading the world to a better place, we need to look at ourselves first.

There is an Ungoverned Space in Gaseous Extinguishing Systems

Our industry can make a better world. In 1924 the Walter Kidde Company developed the first CO2 extinguisher, and in the 1960’s DuPont developed the first Halon system. In the 1990’s DuPont developed FM-200™ and 3M™ NOVEC™1230 as “clean agents” to replace Halon, banned under the Montreal Protocol. After that came the use of natural gases. We know them today as Inergen™. All highly pressurised, and anything pressurised can leak. Hence why BS EN ISO 14520 ensures that their contents are checked for content loss. If they lose 5+%, the cylinder has to be re-filled.

For liquefied gaseous extinguishing systems, such as CO2, NOVEC™ 1230, FM-200™ or non-liquefied, such as Inergen, two things matter: sufficient contents to generate the design, concentration, and compartmentation integrity, so that the extinguishing gas is contained within the space on actuation.

So, how are they tested? For contents, one can shut the system down, dismantle, weigh and re-install each cylinder. There can be 600 45KG cylinders on a ship, and hundreds per Data Centre. It takes 2 fire technicians 15 minutes per cylinder. For compartmentation integrity, one can pressurise the compartment space, by air or water, and see where it leaks.

Alternatively, we make an “ungoverned space” a “governed one” so that gaseous contents and compartment spaces are constantly monitored. The British developed ultrasound for enemy submarines in 1916. ASDIC (the Allied Submarine Detection Investigative Committee) is SONAR today. We can detect gaseous systems contents by using ultrasound in liquids –as whales do at sea – and monitor compartmentation/room integrity by ultrasound in air – as bats do at night.

We lead the UK fire sector to export success by combining the best of British spirit with the “hidden hand” of Government to open global markets together.

Together we can be better. As we celebrate the delight of today, it is exceeded only by the thrill of tomorrow.

Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter OBE is the Chairman of Coltraco Ultrasonics, a high-exporting British advanced manufacturer, a Queen’s Award for Enterprise company, the global leader in technology that monitors pressurised gaseous extinguishing systems and compartmentation on land and at sea and exporting to 120 countries. The company has just developed the world’s first instrument to monitor negatively-pressurised Hospital ICU Wards to prevent infection contagion