In conversation with Mr. Harish Dharamshi, Managing Director, HD Fire Protect

Mr. Harish Dharamshi, Managing Director, HD Fire Protect
India, December 16:
Tell us about your entrepreneurship journey. How did HD Fire come into being?

In 1990, many firefighting products were imported to India either from the U.S. or Europe. Those were highly-priced, and import duty used to be as high as 200%. I was unable to understand why no Indian company attempted to manufacture these products and take international approvals. My aim was to establish HD Fire Protect as a quality product manufacturer and provide the best service in the Indian market. The company was started in a small area of 500 sq. feet in Thane. The products I selected were engineered fire-fighting products. Many fire protection companies advised me not to venture into this area, and sometimes in the initial stages, I had my doubts too.

In those days, the TAC (Tariff Advisory Committee) was the approving authority for fire protection equipment, and no product could be sold without their approval. While I had put in all the efforts and preparation, in the first week of February 1991, I received the TAC approval for two products – the deluge valve and water spray nozzles. Till we received the TAC approval (for the first six months), I had very limited work, and so I took on a fire hydrant system project for Dhule Co-operative Ginning and Spinning Mill.

Our first order was for one unit of a fire-fighting monitor for Rs. 3,500 from a company in Mumbai. This was spray painted, packed, and delivered by me personally. The second order was for the supply of deluge valves (a value of Rs. 4.5 lakhs) for the HPCL Pune LPG bottling plant and 11 units for Reliance Hazira.

In 1995, we obtained international UL Approval on our product – deluge valves. It was quite challenging and complex, as such approvals were very uncommon for Indian companies to get. I had to travel to the USA and visit the UL office and lab several times to get our products approved. Subsequently, in 1996, we obtained approvals for alarm valves, and MV and HV water spray nozzles. With the UL approvals, HD Fire's image and reputation got better, and we started getting more orders. We were the only manufacturer of sprinklers in India with approvals from TAC and Central Building Research Institution, Roorkee.

In 1997, we converted HD Fire Protect Co. into a private limited company. We felt the need to expand into a larger space and procured land in Jalgaon MIDC. With such small and humble beginnings, HD Fire Protect came into being.

How do you position your products with regard to your international competitors?

Our range of fire-fighting products has been successfully accepted throughout India as well as in many countries across the world. Some of the main differentiating factors are:-

  1. All of our products have been designed as per requirements of International NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Standards. NFPA standards are most used worldwide in designing and installation of fire-protection systems. This enables our products to be used in international projects.
  2. All the materials used in our products are as per internationally accepted ASME and ASTM grades. All the products, components and sub-components come with acceptable material grades.
  3. Products carry various certifications like UL, FM, VdS, CE (for Europe) as well as ASME U Stamp for pressure vessels and Lloyd's Type Approval for marine applications.
  4. We have envisioned the concept of having a Global Supply with Local Support. We have therefore developed a strong network of our authorized distributors across the globe to help our customers in the supply, installation and maintenance of our products.
  5. Our experienced and proactive team of logistics and supply chain professionals is always available to support our global supply and distribution business.
Let us talk about some more of the latest innovations in the HD Fire Protect portfolio.

We have developed in-house product testing capabilities. From flow tests, friction loss tests or water spray patterns tests, all tests are carried out in our factory, and this distinguishes us from other manufacturers. Further, we have also developed products and solutions, which are completely mechanical, there is no electricity needed for them to function. These consist of water-powered Pelton wheels to water-controlled foam bladder tank systems. Additionally, HD Fire Protect has developed innovative prefabricated firefighting skids, which are easy to install for contractors on-site, saving cost and time. Our firefighting skids are quite popular in the domestic market.

We have also worked on special projects, like sound suppression master stream nozzles, which were installed at ISRO rocket launchpad, Sriharikota. We have recently developed special products like Pre-Action Systems and Inert Gas Suppression Systems for the protection of IT Datacenters.

Please brief us about the company’s infrastructure and what technological additions you have made in order to stay ahead of the competition?

Today we have state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Jalgaon MIDC. Our facilities consist of an in-house foundry, advanced machine shop, fabrication shops, paint shop and assembly unit. We have an in-house quality lab to perform various material tests as well as product performance tests. Additionally, the company has installed 5-axis CNC machining centres for high precision machining of valves. Further, we are in process of developing a semi-automatic foundry setup.

Quality standards are benchmarked by the product performance; please brief us on how you ensure sustained quality control along with your product range.

We are committed to providing the best quality products in the industry. We are committed to delivering excellence, striving for continuous improvement, and responding vigorously to changing customer requirements. We have obtained international product approvals, including UL, FM, VdS and ASME U stamps. UL & FM are two international agencies that develop and release fire-protection product standards. The products are tested in their laboratories in the USA as part of the certification process. Many tests are carried out by them in manufacturing plants. They audit manufacturing plants every quarter. We have been able to implement a total quality management system that includes QMS, Environmental and Health and Safety Integrated System. Compliance with NFPA, UL & FM standards has helped us to develop high-quality products.

How do you perceive the future of the company?

HD Fire Protect Pvt. Ltd., an establishment of more than 30 years, is a growth-oriented company and well prepared with its further growth and expansion plans. We have not only been preparing ourselves with respect to improvement and expansion of manufacturing capabilities but also working towards new product and technology development, specifically in industrial firefighting applications. We look at ourselves to be one of the world-leading companies in the area of water, foam and gas-based firefighting equipment and systems. Today "HD" brand is known globally for excellence in product design, quality and reliability and our products have been tried, tested, and successfully accepted in over 75 countries worldwide.

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