In the midst of the devastating bushfire situation that occurred around January and February, many suppliers of equipment were caught short due to the huge spike in demand. ‘These situations are very difficult to forecast,’ says Francois Steverlynck, Managing Director of Crusader Hose, a Melbourne-based manufacturer of fire hose. Crusader have been manufacturing fire hose at their Bayswater factory for 35 years and are a supplier to the Country Fire Authority (CFA) of Victoria plus numerous fire customers such as Wormald and Chubb.
When the crisis hit, many property owners turned to their rural supply stores for fire-protective equipment including pumps and hose. Crusader Hose in turn was suddenly filled with urgent orders for their fire hose and fortunately had a large stock in the warehouse that needed to be fitted prior to despatch. Many company employees cancelled their Christmas annual leave in order to attend to this unprecedented demand. The company also responded by keeping their weaving looms running 18 hours a day, plus Saturday. The looms are the equipment on which the fabric is woven into a high-pressure jacket.
‘This is not a situation we like to be in because many had lost their properties and some have lost loved ones, which is very heartbreaking. Our commitment was to provide as much help and support as possible, trying to get as many deliveries out as quick as we could, sometimes having to delay processing industrial hose orders. We copped a fair bit of pressure from our regular mining customers; however, priorities were given to those in the affected bushfire areas,’ said Francois.
Each fire hose ordered had the appropriate coupling fitted to it as per the customer’s specified pump outlet. The most popular was 25 and 38mm BSP threaded couplings followed by Storz type. These were securely attached and tested so that customers could fully depend on the fire hose to handle the high pressure of the pump. ‘Many customers were relieved to receive their fire hose within 2–3 days and the feedback was most satisfying,’ added Francois.
The management at Crusader Hose decided to take the bold step to invest in more weaving looms, so as to be even better prepared for future demand. ‘This is a major capital expense,’ said Francois, ‘yet we are showing our commitment to local manufacturing plus quick turnaround. The Covid crisis has taught us about the risk of being dependent on imports.’ The Mandal looms, which come from Norway, are from one of the best suppliers in the world. Crusader Hose weave on the original looms, some of which were purchased over 35 years ago, and are still going strong. Customer service is best offered with local capability as there is no time to wait for overseas shipments to arrive.
As part of the culture of continuous improvement, Crusader Hose has also developed a new lightweight lining technique. The poly-urethane (PU) lining is ultra-thin and flexible. This has dropped the weight of the hose down by 1.1kg. Therefore, it will be easier for firefighters to carry this new hose around.
For more information, go to www.crusaderhose.com.au