Fire prevention and safety specialist SICADA has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1993, from a small fire alarm retailer to become the go-to mining contractor for fire and safety risk assessment, system design, installation, maintenance, and more.
SICADA Fire and Safety has an ethos around integrity and quality, and delivering positive outcomes for its customers, which is why the business has carved its niche and grown into one of Australia's most reliable contractors.
It was nearly thirty years ago, a man named Robin Sellar was watching the nightly news, when a story about a house fire caught his attention. Thankfully, no one was injured, all down to a simple smoke alarm. The news story planted the seed for Sellar which saw him go on to found Australia's premiere fire and safety service provider and equipment supplier in Australia, SICADA.
He founded SICADA as a family business in 1993, and still to this day it is run as a family business, albeit much larger than he ever expected.
For much of the first decade of the company's existence, it was a simple retailer of fire alarms and other small equipment, however a road trip through central Queensland saw a step change for the business which found itself with a contract from Anglo American Coal to supply its mine sites. To this day, Anglo American Coal remains a loyal customer. Mining now accounts for the majority of SICADA's order book. Clients include both large and small companies such as Whitehaven Coal, BHP, Glencore, Macmahon and most recently, Emeco Group.
At the heart of the business is a simple philosophy, that integrity and quality are key to effective fire and safety management. Quality must never be sacrificed, and each mine operation is unique. Sellar recounted CCTV footage he had seen a few years ago.
"There was a fire on a mine site which shocked me," Sellar said. "It was a fire on a dump truck, flames engulfing the vehicle. The operator was stuck in a glass box and he had to get out of his cab and then walk across the engine deck."
There are no shortcuts in this business. A person's life could be saved with just a few thousand dollars. Integrity, in this situation, means a rigorous design, quality install and that the systems deploy as per the plan. Risks to life and equipment are minimised as per the safety assessment.
SICADA follows a rigorous process commencing with a full fire systems assessment. Are those systems fit for purpose? As Robin Sellar says, "we help our customers understand the capability of their systems and work with them in determining whether the systems are adequate given their unique risk profile". Informed decision making follows with the determination of any remedial works and associated implementation time frames.
This process is managed by the in-house SICADA Engineering team. A group of highly qualified and experienced engineers, they work across mining, oil and gas, processing (minerals and chemicals), defence and heavy industrial sectors. Their expertise spans the whole project lifecycle from hazard and risk identification through to installation and commissioning on both brown and green field sites.
SICADA believes a part of ensuring integrity means the right equipment, connected in the right way. There is no "one size fits all" and the SICADA mantra is one of utilising the best products for the situation. As such they offer multi-brand solutions, utilising only the best of the best, to deliver industry leading outcomes.
SICADA was a pioneer in removing PFAS from mine sites in Queensland. The state eliminated PFAS from mine operations, completely, a number of years ago. SICADA is now it is looking to do the same in WA.
"We offer advisory services on how to get rid of PFAS, the processes involved, the options for disposal, and then conduct the work," Sellar said. "As a business we are investing heavily to minimise our environmental footprint, in the scheme of things I guess it is small change but something we are committed to and immensely proud of".
As the business has grown SICADA has continued to expand its national presence and now has offices in the west and south of Queensland as well as regional New South Wales.
Outside of mining, SICADA provides services to the oil and gas industry (including two of the biggest drilling rigs and platforms on the North West Shelf), broader industrial sectors, and marine vessels supporting everything from trawlers and tugs to bulk carriers. To give the last words to Robin Sellar, "we're always looking for new opportunities and to partner with industry. Personally, I am excited by improving what we do, how we operate and in seeing the industry advance. Simply put, that's what gets me out of bed each morning!"