From the humble beginnings of running Delta Fire from a small Norwich workshop to providing vital fire safety equipment to more than 70 countries worldwide, Ian Gardner has kept the fire manufacturer’s roots cemented firmly in Norfolk.

With Ian’s wife Carol, daughters Lisa and Joanne, and grandsons Jordon King and Kai Sweeney behind him, the award-winning business employs three generations of the same family, backed up by a team of dedicated professionals, many with more than 20 years service.

Delta Fire is working towards its goal of being a major world player in its market, and already supplies life-saving bespoke fire nozzles to more than 75% of the UK’s Fire and Rescue Services.

“Our products are niche, but they have wide application,” said Ian.

“Aside from Fire and Rescue Services, we work with the defence sector, particularly the marine and naval element, the petrochemical industry, aerospace, mining, waste recycling, the energy sector – basically anywhere there’s a significant fire risk, you will find our products.”

With a background and degree in biological science and an upbringing in Lancashire, it wasn’t Ian’s intention to make the move down south, but several career moves led to the family moving to the Home Counties and, along the way, working for several years within the fire industry, where his passion for firefighting products began.

“I had a young family and after completing a management training programme, I took a senior job at the overseas headquarters of Dunlop in central London as overseas project manager. Now no longer in the fire industry, I missed it even though the new job was great.

“The two-hour door-to-door commute, both ways, every day was not great though and was the catalyst to leaving Aylesbury, where I was living at the time, to move the whole family to Norfolk and back into the fire industry by starting Delta Fire in 1990. I wanted to be where the action was – the burgeoning oil and gas industry in the East of England was too good to resist.

“In our early days the oil, gas and offshore sector was huge for us, and it’s still a big part of our business as the fire safety element is absolutely critical. You can’t take the fire brigade out to the rigs; everything has to be on site.”

Early successes for Delta Fire included supplying and commissioning firefighting systems on the 13 floating roof oil storage tanks at the main Abu Dhabi export terminal in the Middle East.

In later years, Delta Fire designed and manufactured many of the automatic oscillating monitor systems protecting the helidecks on North Sea oil and gas platforms.

“As regards to fire fighter nozzles, I always had a really clear direction and saw the gap in the market as I knew there wasn’t any key player in the UK manufacturing them,” said Ian. “The market leaders were American companies and most of the UK fire brigades were using American products.

“I believed I could make Delta Fire a market leader. We started with third-party products, but it wasn’t long before we had our own full range, designing and manufacturing everything on site.”

Eastern Daily Press: The Delta Fire family, left to right, Kai Sweeney, Jordon King, Ian Gardner, Carol Gardner, Lisa Gardner and Joanne GardnerThe Delta Fire family, left to right, Kai Sweeney, Jordon King, Ian Gardner, Carol Gardner, Lisa Gardner and Joanne Gardner (Image: Delta Fire)
Ian’s vision signalled a move in 2022 to a £5.5m state-of-the-art sustainable and eco-friendly building at Broadland Business Park in Norwich, and there are plans afoot to plough a further £350,000 into sustainable initiatives, with the aim of hitting net zero way before 2030.

Most of Delta Fire’s energy needs come from large arrays of solar panels, which for much of the year powers the whole building, with manufacturing machines tended by solar powered robots. A huge commercial solar battery storage unit is currently being installed.

​“We sell not only firefighting nozzles internationally to many airports, but also special versions for de-icing runways such as Luton, Heathrow and Manchester.

“London Fire and Rescue Service use our products extensively, including specialist fire nozzles for high-rise buildings. Fire Services as far away as Perth Fire Brigade in Australia use Delta nozzles.

“The world’s largest oil refinery, Jamnagar Refinery in India, purchased over £2 million worth of Delta Pressure Regulating Valves for its fire-water ring main.’’ Where there’s a need – Delta Fire has responded.

“We have designed products to support fires in high rise apartments and we also have EV products in development, which we’re really excited about because it’s quite topical at the moment.

“Our solution is widely applicable and we hope it will meet a need across the UK.

“We have longevity with our staff and I think a lot of that is because we find people who are able to multi task and wear lots of different hats. There’s lots of opportunities to move into different areas of the business, it’s very diverse and there’s never a dull moment.

“In our 35-year history we have sold internationally to many countries, but we are developing a strong distributor network where we are able to have someone fully supporting the local market and building long term relationships in many countries. Notable recent successes include Germany and Japan.

“It is exciting to feel that the fire-fighting nozzles we are manufacturing here in Norfolk are travelling all over the world and saving life and property on a global scale.”

Eastern Daily Press: Delta’s Fire’s state-of-the-art building at Broadland Business ParkDelta’s Fire’s state-of-the-art building at Broadland Business Park (Image: Delta Fire)

Igniting a passion

Delta Fire’s business development manager, Jordon King, is bringing his own unique expertise to the business.

He’s been involved with Delta Fire since he was a young child, accompanying his grandad Ian on the train to hand deliver some urgently required fire hydrant spares to Buckingham Palace.

A business management degree at the University of Nottingham led him to a career in finance in Australia, but after he was caught in the middle of a wildfire, it sparked Jordon’s passion for his grandfather’s industry.

“This incident just really ignited my passion for sustainability and focusing on the environment,” said Jordon. “I joined the business with the aim of helping make it even more sustainable, along with developing a product for wildfires – our hydro-wall hose. Many fire brigades are trialling it at the moment.

“We’re all really passionate about sustainability, so when we built our new unit, we were able to get everything right from day one.”

A new building extension on site is planned for next year with additional solar panels to achieve 10,000 extra square feet for project work, stock holding and new machinery.

Delta Fire is generating enough solar to be virtually self-sufficient for eight months of the year without the need to use the National Grid, but Jordon is currently assisting in the search for additional energy sources in winter when the amount of solar is reduced.

“The hope is we will export more into the grid in the summer months than we import in the winter, so we can hit net zero on an annual basis. We want to go further than that though and hope to get some of the new generation vertical helical aerofoil wind turbines on site. That way, in the winter we can keep the battery topped up with wind turbines and hopefully reduce the need for the grid even further.  

“Ian is an inventor and is fascinated by designing and making things. His spirit of innovation continues, and he sees his role in inspiring others in the company to continue this work long into the future to increase and maintain Delta Fire as a global player operating from its Norfolk base.”

Eastern Daily Press: Oil and chemical resistant Nova Type 3 layflat fire hoseOil and chemical resistant Nova Type 3 layflat fire hose (Image: Delta Fire)

Keeping the energy sector safe

Delta Fire offers a wide range of firefighting equipment designed specifically for the onshore and offshore oil and gas sectors, where harsh operational environments are commonplace. 

Offering a single-source solution to customers around the world, products range from the oil and chemical resistant Nova Type 3 layflat fire hose to fully integrated state-of-the-art foam proportioning, foam skid systems.

Perhaps best known for its market leading range of handheld fire nozzles, Delta Fire’s fully marinised bronze Marine Attack 500 and Shockless nozzles are widely used by global oil and gas operators.

The MED/UKCA Approved Attack Series nozzles are currently in use across multiple marine based energy sectors, providing low-cost-of-life and dependable long-term operational use.

The Delta DF130 Mobile Foam Unit is a one-person deployable high-performance wheeled foam station, capable of delivering more than 34,000 litres of protective low-expansion foam solution over a 20-minute run time. It’s ideal for fast fire knock-down or liquid spill containment in oil storage and loading terminals, paint and solvent stores, boiler/engine rooms and any other high-risk area.

Delta’s corrosion resistant bronze DF4500 Oscillating Monitor can be found on an ever-increasing number of offshore platforms and drilling rigs. Ideal for helideck protection, the monitors can be manually operated or fully integrated into a foam skid system such as the Self-Contained Foam Skid Modules or Helimixer Units, providing automatic operation for instant fire protection/suppression – perfect for Normally Unmanned Installations (NUI).