Fire

Talking technology: 25 years and counting: having been around and supporting fire and rescue services for the best part of 30 years, Fortek Managing Director George Godliman has a canny insight and unwavering passion that belies his relaxed demeanour. As Fortek celebrate 25 years in the Fire Service, FIRE spoke to one of the sector's most appealing characters.(Technology)

BACK IN THE 70S GEORGE

Godliman was a university lecturer plying his trade during the day whilst tinkering with unfeasibly large computers in the evening, often stacking the childrens' rooms with monster-sized machines.

His first sortee into the Fire Service came in 1976 when a friend of his came up with an automatic addition to the micro fish unit. A four or five metre high computer, "pioneering stuff back then," he recalls, which provided an interim solution for Tyne and Wear before command and control came into being. The programme, now known as a PDA, went down a storm, George recounts.

"You can't imagine the impact this had. We took our computer to the Fire Show in Brighton. We won the contract for Grampian and demonstrated it for half an hour back in 1978. There was a physical reaction from the audience. No-one could believe it."

Technological Age

At the next year's Fire Show in Harrogate they took bookings for fire personnel to come onto the stand. The technological age had hit the Fire Service and George was on the crest of the wave. Not for the first time, it proved illusory.

"At the time BT supplied all fire services with VF System A. We thought we had CAD systems for all fire services, then BT removed the supply to the Fire Service and it became about the communications infrastructure. The whole market changed at a stroke and the big companies moved in. Fortunately, we'd made a good impression on brigades and we'd established ourselves as a player. …

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