Omar Jallow: CEO of the US-based Badabada Fire Protection Enterprise
Friday, July 20, 2012
pleasure to warmly welcome you to this edition of the Bantaba that comes your
way on Fridays. In this edition, this columnist is pleased to present to the
esteemed readers one of those Gambians in the Diaspora, who is doing extremely
well in his specialised field of work.
In this edition, he also used this opportunity to react to the recent spate of fire disasters in the country that have destroyed both lives and properties. Concerned about this, he now intends to extend his work to The Gambia through the promotion of the most effective technology used in averting fire outbreaks – sprinkler. But before this and others, lets further introduce this man who is very keen to come back home and contribute in saving the lives and properties of Gambians from fires.
Omar Jallow was born in Sukuta and grew up in Basse. Hewent to high school in Banjul. He traveled to the US after successfully completing high school and four years serving as an internal auditor for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. Jallow has now been in the US for 10 years, and during this time, he achieved multiple certifications in the field of Fire Sprinkler systems and proper install techniques.He participates in continuing education to ensure that he stays abreast of the most current skills, techniques and regulations surrounding fire protection.
observed how numerous fires have broken out across the country and taken many
precious lives.He now desires to
bring his fire protection skills back to his home country to educate the
community about fire safety and facilitate installing these systems. In
addition to that, he intends to transfer his knowledge toGambians through training.
Please enjoy the rest of the interview
Bt: What would be your reaction to thenumerousfire outbreaks in the country of recent?
Jallow:Every year, thousands of lives are lost to home fires because the residents couldn’t or didn’t respond quickly enough when fire broke out. As a Gambian, I am very proud to bring the ultimate fire safety technology available today. Experts agree the most comprehensive protection from a home fire is a total system of safety – prevention, early warning (working smoke alarm on every level of the home), quick evacuation, suppression (fire sprinkler system).
Bt: How do you feel about the fact that lives and properties continue be lost in increased fire disasters in The Gambia?
faults account for most fire-related disasters, followed by human error such as
unsecured candle lights, lanterns, gas burners, human induced fire – such as
arson – and many more. Gambia also lacks adequate resources, funding and
trained personnel who are up to date in fire fighting mechanisms. Fires can be
categorized into one of three levels – small, major and fatal; however, something
can be done before a fire becomes fatal.
Fire sprinkler systems are the answer because it’s like having a fire station in your own home. Fire extinguishers can only put out small fires if someone is home and knows how to operate the canister. As explained earlier, time is of the essence, it only takes two minutes for a small fire to become a disaster and 12 minutes for it to become fatal. Let's be honest to ourselves, how long does it take for the rescue team to arrive at a fire scene? When they do eventually show up – it's too late.
refer to an incident that took place recently in a kitchen of one of the
leading hotels, the whole kitchen burned to ashes. I approached the manager the
same day and offered my services, but the manager was not nice towards me and
did not give me the chance to outline my expertise.All he said was, "The place has burned down. What can you do now?"Gambians can prevent fires like this in
the future. Where are the fire extinguishers when these fires break out? We
need to change our mindset to think beyond a situation.
Here’s the deal, the hotel in the main time will lose hundreds of thousands of Dalasis in revenue while renovation is in progress. Folks will also lose their livelihood. All it takes is a token amount to install a fire sprinkler system. For the same reason – this is why the Serekunda market fires cannot be contained and will continue to happen until we wake up and look out for better solutions.
The chief fire Marshall in The Gambia spends most of his time selling fire extinguishers to hotels, NGO, businesses, banks and so on. He knows that extinguishers don't put out big fires; however, he insists that people have the device in their places. Mr. Fadera, if you really care about protecting folks from fire disasters, please investigate areas such as the central bank, airport - especially the gas station at the airport, banks, markets, MRC, and hotels.You will find that all these areas are not really fire proof protected. I approached all of these institutions when I was in the Gambia.
Bt: You are a certified fire sprinkler in the United States. What can you share withGambians regarding the importance of using sprinklers as opposed to the extinguisher used in most Gambian offices and homes?
Jallow:Every home fire starts small.If it goes unchecked, a home fire grows and spreads quickly, reaching extreme heat and spreading highly toxic smoke. No one can survive a fire that reaches this level. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a home fire can reach deadly proportions in only 3 minutes or less.
A home fire sprinkler system works automatically at the earliest stage of fire growth, controlling the flames before they can build deadly heat and smoke. This gives families the time they need to safely escape – even young children and older adults who may not be able to get out on their own. The fire sprinkler system also limits the extent of damage to a single area of the home.
Fire sprinklers are automatic and closest to fire is activated – its like having a fire fighter on a duty 24 hours; whilst extinguishers need training to use and must be operated manually. Once a fire sprinkler is properly installed and tested, minimal maintenance is required, as opposed to extinguishers which need regular maintenance and inspection. Whilst fire sprinkler allows time to safely evacuate premises; for extinguishers, if you stay behind to fight the fire using it, you are endangering yourself by inhaling toxic smoke, as well as losing escape time.
Bt: As an expert in this area, what plans do you have for the country, especially in ensuring that sprinklers are introduced to minimise the occurrence of fire outbreaks?
Jallow: As an expert, my plans for the country are to make fire sprinkler installation economical and affordable for every home. It is the single most effective way to prevent fire related deaths that occur in the homes.
Bt: Are sprinklers within the reach of the average Gambian?
Jallow:Yes, absolutely.If the average Gambian homeowner has water in their household, then they can have access to a fire sprinkler system. The installation cost of a home fire sprinkler system is comparable to purchasing new flooring or furniture. Anyone who values their life and their family’s lives should invest in a fire sprinkler system. These systems are used throughout commercial properties to provide safety and property protection.
Bt: What truly inspired you to choose your current venture in fire protection and why you did not continue working in the finance and economic sectors?
Jallow:After I came to the US, I enrolled at a local university to further my education.I simultaneously held various part time jobs to fund my living expenses and tuition. I could no longer afford my tuition so I began working fulltime with a large sprinkler company to earn a living – I needed to pay bills. As soon as I started to learn about sprinkler systems and how they save lives, I knew that this was something that I could eventually introduce to my home country to help prevent the deadly fire outbreaks.
Bt: Tell us, when did you start setting up your own company and what it takes to establish it in a foreign country, especially in this critical area? Also explain how rewarding the establishment of this company has been to you in terms of service delivery.
Jallow:I started setting up my company about two years ago here in the US. Before setting it up, I had to complete my certifications, complete a certain number of on-the-job training hours and obtain investors that believed in what I was trying to build. While still here in the US, I had to start communicating with my contacts in Gambia to share the news of my establishment.This was all in preparation for my return home to take the company to the next level.
It has been
rewarding to educate the Gambian and Senegal community about how these fire
sprinkler systems can truly help to prevent more fires. I’ve made some great connections with
mostly everyone that I reached out to. The people have shown great interest in learning more about this – and
like with anything new – it has been challenging but I continue to have a
I feel very much like a pioneer. My plan is to partner with small businesses, homeowners, government, construction companies – and offer my services to install these systems.I plan to make costs as affordable as possible because my intention and top priority is to bring safety to the people.
I’ve offered to install a demonstration system at the Jammeh Foundation Hospital – free of charge – so that the people can see exactly how the fire sprinkler system works. While I was in the Gambia during the latter part of 2011 into 2012, I went from door to door talking with the community about my company and what I could offer. I’m looking forward to returning so that I can continue my pursuits in getting these life-saving systems in the homes and businesses of the country.
Bt: That does it for this interview but before taking leave of you, any final words?
Jallow:Fire does not discriminate.The homes you build are safe from a variety of dangers – but are these homes safe from fire?It is never too late to install a fire sprinkler system in your home to increase your safety from a fire outbreak.Installation can be done on both new construction as well as an existing home.
Badabada Fire Protection Enterprise is a licensed fire protection construction agency specializing in commercial and residential fire sprinkler systems.Let us help you protect what you value most in your life.
Bt: Thank you so much for creating time for this interview.
Jallow:Thank you too.
Author: Hatab Fadera