Hampshire Fire Protection Company Inc.
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Victor Martins
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Hampshire Fire Protection Company Inc. (HFP) was founded in 1978 as a one-man operation with little more than a pickup truck. Larry Thibodeau, president and owner of HFP, has been in the industry since 1966, working for a local contractor through the summer before attending college. As he gained experience and built up his business, Thibodeau has established longstanding relationships with suppliers and industry associations. He served as chairman for the American Fire Sprinkler Association, based in Dallas, Texas, for several years.
Today, Thibodeau leads a team of approximately 125 employees. Based in Londonderry, N.H., HFP has grown to include five offices in the northeast, with a second Londonderry location, as well as facilities in Jackson, Lebanon and Swanzey, N.H. The crew has worked all over New England, with a service area that encompasses New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts.
The company’s service and tenant improvement divisions are integral to the success of HFP. “Emergency services are provided 24/7/365 along with scheduled system testing, service, repair and fire extinguishers,” Thibodeau explains.
Thibodeau and his crew have completed projects alongside major contractors, such as Gilbane Inc., Harvey Construction and Turner Construction Company. These longstanding partnerships serve a broad customer base, with clients in the commercial, industrial, residential, medical and educational sectors, among others.
Strong In-house Capabilities
HFP performs everything in-house; the company has its own engineers, designing systems utilizing building information modeling to lay out plans. The business also has an in-house fabrication shop where crew members manufacture custom piping. When the materials are complete and the plan fits the contract, a team of technicians arrives on-site to install the systems. HFP specializes in water-based suppression systems, meaning clients can expect a broad selection of sprinklers and foam fire protection options. All systems are crafted in-house and tested for performance before a project is commissioned.
Paul DeLorie, vice president and head of sales for HFP, has led the team on a number of unique and challenging projects over the years. The company is involved with dozens of projects at any given time. Currently, the business is involved in several major undertakings, with large teams on sites in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
The crew is at work on two logistically challenging projects for educational clients, building technical school in Danvers, Mass., as well as Manchester, N.H. “Our project in Danvers, Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical [ENSAT] High School, has been really complex,” DeLorie elaborates. “We are working on six new buildings on a fast schedule. Logistically, this job has been really tough for our managers to keep a thumb on. We have multiple foremen and multiple crews out there and the team there has almost become its own little company. Our shop is going bonkers keeping up with materials acquisition, fabrication and delivery. This project has taken on a place of reverence at our office.”
According to DeLorie, Manchester’s New Hampshire Job Corps Center (NHJCC) has grown into a comparable challenge to the ENSAT project. NHJCC is a trade school, operated and administered by the Department of Labor.
“There are six buildings on this contract,” DeLorie explains. “The multiple structures serve different training needs for young people, such as culinary arts, mechanical systems and plumbing. There is also a residential component with dormitories and an athletic center. There are several classroom buildings with seminar and auditorium space, as well. We have been on this project since May 2013. We’ll start piping in the next week or so and our completion date is in July 2014.”
It Gets Bigger
As if the technical school projects were not enough, HFP has picked up two of the most unique projects in the company’s history in the past year. HFP is currently working on a massive hospital and research center expansion to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, part of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. The team is working with Turner Construction Company, providing fire suppression design, fabrication and installation for the new wing of the hospital.
“Fire sprinkler systems are more complex with the business of hospital work,” DeLorie notes. “There is so much that goes into a hospital that is hidden and people just don’t see. There are vacuum lines, oxygen, cable trays and it goes on. It’s an incredible network.”
The team is also in the process of completing a foam-based fire suppression system for Rectrix Aviation, a large private aircraft hangar in Concord, Mass. “Most people don’t know what’s involved in sprinkler systems,” DeLorie notes. “In this hangar, the system is arranged to have high expansion foam fall out of roof units in the case of a fire. This is an enormous space at around 60,000 square feet. 10 foam generators will simultaneously flood the space with 3 feet of foam. We were involved in the earlier design concepts in order to incorporate this system and there are a lot of industry and state level regulations we have to follow. We hope to be wrapping up at the end of December and we will run a full test of the system, foam and all.”
HFP is busy, despite the recent economic downturn. Thibodeau reports stability in recent years due to trimming some expenses and controlling quality and performance; he credits his dedicated long-term employees with much of the business’ success. The entire team is looking forward to a number of large and complex projects in the coming months as Hampshire Fire Protection Company Inc. continues to provide high-tech design, fabrication and installation services to protect schools, hospitals and businesses across the region.
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