Belfast Telegraph

Small Co Antrim firm Fast Engineering is making a big splash in typhoon-ravaged Philippines

Water tanks shipped out to help aid effort

by clare weir

Products being made in a small factory in Co Antrim are being shipped to the Philippines to assist the aid effort following Typhoon Haiyan.

Fast Engineering Ltd, established in 1981 by Seamus Connolly, makes FASTANK, a liquid storage container for use in a number of sectors, including oil and chemical spill clean-ups, firefighting, the military, fish farming and animal rescue.

Around £100,000 worth of tanks are being shipped to the Philippines through Fast Engineering's relationship with Save the Children.

The tanks will be used to extract and treat water from rivers and lakes, for use by remote rural communities, while the mains supply is repaired.

While water pipes in the Philippines are mainly laid underground and are therefore mostly undamaged, overground installations like tap stands and connections into homes and businesses have been left badly damaged and in need of repair.

"What we are doing for the Philippines is helping to supply clean water for around 1200 people. It's a tank, pipes and a cleaning system, all in one box," Mr Connolly said.

The company, based in Antrim, sends tanks to more than 80 countries throughout the world and exports 90% of its products.

As well as being used for natural catastrophes like the typhoon and man-made disasters, the products have also seen some rather unusual applications.

These include mud-wrestling matches in Alaska, mass baptisms in Africa and as a nursery for baby crocodiles and whales in an American zoo.

The tanks were also deployed during the recent wildfires in Australia, and in August they played a major role in the clean-up of a devastating oil spill in Thailand.

Currently, Fast Engineering employs around 12 people.

The factory on the Greystone Road has recently been expanded by around 60% and new staff are to be recruited next year to cope with rising demands for products.

Mr Connolly said that fostering contacts with aid agencies, oil companies and police and fire departments around the world had helped the business take off.

"Our products are very durable and long-lasting and some of the tanks we have seen being used in the news in some countries are up to 20 years old, so they really do last," he explained.

"That reputation for quality has helped us win more work. We don't wait for disasters to happen – these companies and agencies already know about us and they often have already used our products and keep our products, so they know who to contact when the worst happens."

Belfast Telegraph