Two firefighters started a company providing fire and water services to special effects companies and art departments operating in the television and film industries.
Cardiff-based Ryan Godfrey and Andrew Hearne, who have over 30 years of combined fire service experience, set up Dragon Fire and Water Services in late 2021, with the aim of using their extensive knowledge of firefighting urban and rural fires to change the lane services are provided for special effects requiring rain, downpours and fire blanket for television and film productions.
Using their fleet of specialized water carriers, booms and pumping equipment, Andrew, Ryan and their growing team provide their services to studios and venues when there is a need for extra security or water for special effects.
Additionally, they also provide in-shot services where their teams deliver live action and action sequences in firefighting scenes, or other incidents that require emergency services assistance, like cut cars in traffic accident scenes, so that everything on screen looks and feels as authentic as possible.
The duo run Dragon Fire & Water Services from their location on Penarth Road in Cardiff, a short distance from some of Wales’ biggest studios. The services they offer are unique in Wales, as previously all film and television projects requiring similar services had to hire specialists from England.
Dragon Fire & Water Services is a supplier to Disney Lucasfilm and the BBC, and works with special effects companies such as AnyFX and RealSFX. To date, Andrew and Ryan have worked on a number of major ongoing projects in Wales, including providing support to RealSFX on an upcoming Disney Plus series, which was filmed at Dragon Studios Bridgend, and a number other large-scale productions that are still in progress. the pre-launch phase.
“The Welsh creative sector has exploded in recent years and it’s amazing to be a part of it,” says Andrew. “It’s an exciting time, the industry is clearly getting better and better and there are so many companies and people we’ve drawn inspiration from, many of whom we haven’t met yet, but consider to be real success stories.
“You only have to look at some of the award-winning companies like Wolf Studios, Dragon Studios, RealSFX, ADF and Panalux to see that Welsh companies can be at the forefront of this industry and be true industry leaders.
“Working with Disney Lucasfilm was a huge opportunity for us, given the status of everyone involved and the project being so iconic, and after that we worked hard to be at the center of any project based in or coming to the Land of Wales.”
Andrew and Ryan raised capital to launch their new business through the British Business Bank’s Start-Up Loans scheme, receiving £50,000.
The money has been used to grow their equipment fleet and supplies, as well as working capital as they scale at a tremendous pace due to the many opportunities available to them in the Welsh creative sector .
The British Business Bank’s Start-up Loan Scheme offers government-backed loans of up to £25,000 per individual, up to a maximum of £100,000 per business, facilitated by delivery partners in Wales like Business in Focus based in Bridgend. In addition to funding, successful applicants receive 12 months of free mentorship and advice.
The Start Up Loans scheme has provided over 4,000 individual loans to entrepreneurs in Wales over the past nine years, worth over £40m.
“When we were looking for funding, there didn’t seem to be a bank or funding program that would support a business idea and plan like ours,” says Andrew, “we tried but there were always so many But the British Business Bank was different, our adviser Steve, whom we met through Business in Focus, who works with the British Business Bank in Wales, was amazing and without him we wouldn’t be where we are are now.
“Starting a business is a scary time, but having the right support made all the difference and having someone’s cell phone number added a dimension that I think is missing in the modern banking world – a call never went unanswered and we are very grateful for that.”
Beth Bannister, Senior Manager for Wales at the British Business Bank, said: “Andrew and Ryan exemplify the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that our start-up loan program is designed to support.
“The Welsh creative sector is one of the Welsh Government’s flagship priority sectors, with a huge focus on developing opportunities for businesses operating in creative supply chains so that Wales becomes a major player on the international film and television scene.
“The fact that Andrew and Ryan have tapped into this growing market and are already working with some of the biggest names in entertainment in the world is truly a testament to their vision and work ethic and we are delighted to have supported them in their journey.”