Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business

Start Up Loans Programme Backs Special Effects Fire and Water Specialists


Two firefighters have established a company providing fire and water services to special effects companies and art departments operating in the TV and film industries.

Cardiff based Ryan Godfrey and Andrew Hearne, who have over 30 years’ combined experience in the fire service, established Dragon Fire and Water Services in late 2021, with the aim of utilising their in-depth knowledge of urban and rural fire fighting to change the way services are provided for special effects requiring rain, wet downs and fire cover for TV and film productions.

Using their fleet of water carriers, dams and specialist pumping equipment, Andrew, Ryan and their growing team provide their services at studios and locations when there is a requirement for additional safety or water for special effects

Additionally, they also provide in-shot services where their crews deliver acting and action sequences in fire fighting scenes, or other incidents requiring emergency services assistance, such as cutting up cars at road traffic accident scenes, in order that everything appearing on screen looks and feels as authentic as possible.

The duo run Dragon Fire & Water Services from their location on Penarth Road in Cardiff, which is just a short distance from some of Wales’ biggest studios. The services they offer are unique in Wales, as previously all film and TV projects requiring similar services had to bring in specialists from England.

Dragon Fire & Water Services are a vendor for Disney Lucasfilm and the BBC, and work with special effects companies such as AnyFX and RealSFX. To date Andrew and Ryan have worked on a number of major projects underway in Wales, including providing support to RealSFX on an upcoming Disney Plus Series, which was filmed in Dragon Studios Bridgend, and a number of other large-scale productions which are still in the pre-release phase.

“The Welsh creative sector has blown up in recent years and it’s amazing to be a part of it”,

says Andrew.

“It’s an exciting time, the industry is clearly going from strength to strength and there are so many companies and people we have taken inspiration from, a lot of whom we haven’t met yet, but who we hold up as real examples of success.

“You only have to look at some of the award winning companies out there like Wolf Studios, Dragon Studios, RealSFX, ADF and Panalux to see that Welsh companies can be at the forefront of this industry and be real 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 following this we’ve worked hard to be front and centre of any project that’s based in, or comes to Wales.”

Andrew and Ryan raised capital to launch their new venture via the British Business Bank Start Up Loans programme, receiving £50,000.

The money has been utilised for developing their fleet and equipment supplies, as well as for working capital as they scale at considerable pace due to the abundant opportunities available to them within the Welsh creative sector.

The British Business Bank Start Up Loans programme provides government backed loans of up to £25,000 per individual, up to a maximum of £100,000 per business, facilitated through delivery partners in Wales like Business in Focus based in Bridgend. In addition to finance, successful applicants receive 12 months of free mentoring and advice.

The Start Up Loans programme has delivered more than 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 scheme that would support a business idea and plan like ours”,

says Andrew,

“we did try but there were always so many hoops to jump through. But the British Business Bank were different. Our advisor Steve, who we met via Business in Focus, who work with the British Business Bank in Wales, was amazing and without him we wouldn’t be where we are now.

“Starting a business is a worrying time but having the right support has made a world of difference and having someone’s mobile number added a dimension which I think is missing in the modern banking world – a call never went unanswered and we’re so 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 programme is designed to support.

“The Welsh creative sector is one of the Welsh Government’s flagship priority sectors, with a huge amount of focus being targeted at developing opportunities for companies operating in the creative supply chains in order that Wales becomes a major player on the international film and television stage.

“The fact that Andrew and Ryan have tapped into this growing market and are already working with some of the biggest entertainment names in the world, really is testament to their vision and work ethic and we are pleased to have supported them on their journey.”