Automatic Fire Director Jack Butler tells Irish building about the history and growth of the fire protection company and how demand has grown for sprinkler systems across the sectors.
Automatic is exclusively a fire protection business, designing, installing, commissioning, and servicing firefighting systems tailored to suit our client’s requirements and the applicable specifications/legislation. Automatic provide various types of water based extinguishing systems, gas suppression systems and a solution that requires high pressure water-mist or foam enhanced systems. We also design, install, commission and service fire alarm and detection systems and the full package of passive fire protection. “We are a ‘one-stop shop’ for fire protection systems and solutions,” Jack Butler says.
Formed in 1981 by Philip McDonald, an innovator in the sprinkler business, it is Automatic’s 40th birthday in 2021. Automatic installed their first gas suppression system in 1984 and in 1989 became the first fire protection company to exclusively adopt AutoCAD. They entered the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) scheme for approved contractors in 2005. A major expansion of the company took place in 2010 with the cessation of Irish operations by competitor Mather & Platt, as their key management and engineers joined Automatic.
“We are a ‘one-stop shop’ for fire protection systems and solutions.”
Awarded the highest accreditation available to sprinkler contractors in 2014 with LPCB Level 4 certified contractor status. In 2013, Automatic relocated to the company’s 9,000 sq ft HQ in Park West. A management buy-out took place in 2019, when three long-standing directors Paul Kennedy, Catriona Graham, and Jack Butler took over. “Reflecting the general economy and increased construction activity, Automatic has grown over the past 5 years, doubling turnover. “This year, Automatic opened a Netherlands office to seek new opportunities in Europe,” Jack adds.
Automatic has great in-house expertise. “In 2010, when the company took over the Mather & Platt business, we also acquired over 150 years of managerial experience from the engineers and staff that joined us. Our management, engineering and design capabilities continue to grow and experience new challenges. Our Park West workshop also includes a fire testing and gas suppression simulation facility.”
Automatic works in all sectors, along with a nationwide 24/7 service and maintenance business Jack says. “We have a long association with the pharmaceutical industry; over 75% of our pharmaceutical work is repeat business. Commercial and residential projects currently account for a significant part of our workload, with five active projects on Dublin’s quays, along with Cherrywood Town Centre and projects around the country, including Galway, Waterford, Limerick and Cork. The Microsoft HQ in Leopardstown was a project that we were delighted to be associated with, along with the Hilton Hotel in Clonsaugh, Dundrum Shopping Centre, the National Forensic HSE Facility in Portrane and the Dublin Landings project for Ballymore Properties.”
As an LPCB Level 4 certified contractor, which is the highest accreditation level available, Automatic are permitted to design, install, commission and self-certify works on all categories of sprinkler systems, without third-party certification or supervision. “This provides an enormous benefit, along with ease of mind to the client and it expedites the BCAR and the related issuing of documentation at project completion and hand-over stage.”
Automatic want to maintain and improve service quality. A large percentage of business is repeat business. Automatic have long associations with several clients in many sectors Jack says. “It’s a people business. We work hard on forming strong relationships with companies and with people. That only sustains if you consistently perform and work to improve the quality of that service. We want to grow the business, innovate and develop new opportunities in Ireland and overseas.”
Automatic has evolved with the changing environment. “The sprinkler industry grew up around pharmaceutical, food production and industrial clients. The need for sprinklers was primarily driven by insurance requirements, to protect products, research, and production line equipment. Nowadays, at the outset, most construction projects have a design checklist that will consider sprinkler installations, from the perspective of the specification, the legislative and building regulation requirement or asset management protection.”
Hotel chains now regularly require sprinkler installations in all their hotels, worldwide, regardless of fire officer or local building regulations. “Apart from the emergence of taller buildings, especially in the residential sector, designers often enjoy greater scope and flexibility with internal layouts, when sprinklers are incorporated into the specification. Regulations and protocols around elderly care settings often require sprinklers to be provided. The growth of data centres in Ireland, and around Europe, is another sector requiring sprinklers.”
Jack says Automatic recently updated the website. “Our website reflects that continuous journey and tells our story. We hope it provides the person that clicks onto our site, with an insight into Automatic, in what we offer, in what we have done and where we can assist in your enquiry.”