In this Fireside Chat, Deane Sales shares his diverse expertise from engineering to recruitment and fire safety, providing distinctive industry insights. Highlighting his journey through life, Deane cites his marriage as his most cherished accomplishment, illustrating the crucial impact of personal support in achieving professional success.

11 March 2024 by Charlotte Brill, Content Marketing Executive

Hello, I'm Deane Sales, recently appointed as the Group Sales Director at Amthal Group. My journey in the professional world spans over a decade, starting as a Powertrain Engineer at Millbrook Proving Ground. This early phase of my career ignited my enduring passion for cars, a hobby that sees me constantly on the lookout for new automotive projects, especially those that promise a bit of speed and excitement. My career path has been diverse and non-linear, beginning in engineering, transitioning through recruitment, and finally leading me to my current role in fire safety. This journey into the fire safety industry was an unexpected turn in my career, one that started with my engineering background and evolved through various roles before solidifying my passion in this crucial sector.

What initially drew you to join the fire industry?

I think like many I just fell into the industry. I had originally trained to be a powertrain engineer and ended up in the recruitment industry.

My role shifted to a construction consultancy where I was collaborating with leading companies recruiting to the board level. I was also supporting Honeywell and ADT, but little did I know how valuable this experience would be.

On needing a new challenge, the fire sector was recommended, and I applied to companies, including Chubb, ADT, Honeywell, Siemens, Protec, and Chubb. It allowed me to enter a sector and start my career journey in an industry that I would come to love and embrace.

Reflecting on your life so far, what achievement or milestone are you most proud of, and why?

For me, it was getting married. As someone who was very “anti-marriage,” my former self would never have imagined that would be my answer!

I count myself incredibly lucky to have found someone who provides me with tremendous support in both my personal and professional life. My wife keeps me grounded and I am hugely appreciative of what we have and what we will achieve together.

There is so much I could say on this, but at least be known that they say behind every great man is a greater woman. For this, I could not agree more!

How can the fire industry be improved and what does it need for this to happen?

Whilst I think there have been great strides in the fire industry, there are still various aspects that can and must be addressed. This includes the strategic incorporation of the latest technology to enhance early detection and response capabilities.

Embracing innovations such as smart sensors, artificial intelligence, and IoT connectivity can significantly elevate the industry's ability to prevent and mitigate fire incidents.

A comprehensive review and refinement of regulations and compliance standards are essential to keep pace with evolving technologies and emerging risks. Investing in education initiatives that span from professional training for firefighters to public awareness campaigns can foster a culture of safety.

Community engagement should be prioritised, ensuring that individuals and businesses are not only well-informed but actively participating in fire safety practices. And, to encourage newcomers to the industry.

By tackling these aspects collaboratively, the fire industry can continue to evolve and meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world, enhancing overall safety and resilience.

In the next five years, what are your career goals within the fire industry, and what steps are you taking to reach them?

My career goals focus on making an impact. I have been so lucky to work in several positions and for some great companies that have helped me to grow and develop. Along the way, I have learnt many lessons, inspired by the people I work with.

Having just started at Amthal as Group Sales Director, I have a new challenge, where I am excited to leverage my extensive experience to drive business growth and enhance the company's market position.

My primary focus will be on developing and implementing innovative sales strategies, fostering key client relationships, and leading a dynamic sales team. I am eager to contribute to Amthal's continued success by identifying new opportunities, cultivating partnerships, and ensuring that our clients receive the highest level of service and satisfaction. This role aligns perfectly with my passion for driving results and achieving excellence in the competitive landscape of the fire and security industry.

What's the most valuable piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting their career, in the industry?

I have written a few articles about this. I think in an industry where talent is very difficult to find, we need to be supporting the next generation and also looking in unlikely places for people who may have some real skills, especially those who could benefit and enhance the industry.

The saying is true that skills can be taught, it’s the enthusiasm and ambition to learn that we must embrace. In a sector where the skills gap is a pressing issue with its challenges, for anyone looking to start their career in fire safety as a career that really can make a difference, this is what I would suggest:

  • Be open-minded. There is so much to learn, and you will not know everything straight away. And that’s ok. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance.
  • Pick your specialism. Whilst your knowledge can grow across all areas of fire safety, especially with the increasing significance of integrated technology, our sector is calling for targeted Engineers.
  • Understand this is not a 9-to-5 job; this industry and this career will suck you in, so take some responsibility for your knowledge; read, listen, watch, and soak up that knowledge.

I think above all, to build a knowledge network. One of the key areas we focus on at Amthal is the creation of a skilled, multigenerational workforce, where experienced professionals are paired with newcomers to transfer knowledge and expertise.

Embrace these opportunities. Build a personal reference library of standards and guidance documents. But also, don’t be afraid to question anything and everything. Experienced engineers may have the traditional skills, but newcomers have a chance to share their knowledge of smart, mobile-first and integrated solutions.

The industry has a vital opportunity to gain experience and evolve with fresh and new experiences which can bring a new perspective. It works both ways and I would encourage everyone to believe that there is a chance to adapt, reflect and learn.

Finally, and last but by no means least is the integral importance of guaranteed compliance and total protection over any capacity to deliver profit. This must be the number one lesson that is never forgotten through any career opportunity.

What is the most important area of work the FIA is involved with (for you and the overall industry - if different)?

The dedication and tireless efforts of the FIA in translating complex legislation into actionable strategies have been truly eye-opening. During my two-year tenure on the Services Council, I have witnessed the meticulous planning, collaborative efforts, and continuous advocacy to improve fire safety practices across various sectors.

From developing comprehensive training programs to staying at the forefront of technological advancements, the FIA plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of fire safety. The commitment to raising awareness, fostering industry collaboration, and navigating the intricate landscape of regulations reflects the FIA's unwavering dedication to creating a safer environment for everyone.

As we continue to navigate the challenges presented by the impact of the Grenfell tragedy and the evolving regulatory landscape, the behind-the-scenes work of the FIA remains a cornerstone in building a resilient and initiative-taking fire industry. It's a privilege to contribute to these efforts and witness first-hand the positive impact they have on enhancing fire safety standards.

What is your favourite hobby or personal interest outside of work?

I like to ‘blame,’ (associate,) my love of cars and self-confessed “petrol head” status being down to starting my working life as a Powertrain Engineer for Millbrook Proving Ground.

Truth be told, I am always looking for my next project and have owned many (too many!) cars over the years. My proudest moment is finally managing to convince my wife to “invest” in a car with some speed to its name!

What superpower would you have and why?

Alongside my love of cars, is a passion for travel. For holidays and travelling. There are still so many places I want to visit so I think I’d have to go with a superpower of “super travel.”

Of being able to go from one place to another in an instant, even halfway across the world. A weekend in Bali or a day trip to Machu Picchu would be divine!

If you could go anywhere in the world for a holiday for three months all expenses paid, where would you go and why?

An easy one for me. My wife and I share a love of the USA and have been planning a big trip around the places we haven’t yet had a chance to visit. We could easily invest three months and a lot of expenses in this cause!

Name 3 characters you would have to dinner for the perfect evening— one dead, one alive and one fictitious.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robin Williams & Jack Reacher.

Arnie is an absolute legend, and I was gutted to miss his recent tour to talk about his life and “how to be useful.”  Robin Williams, for his spirit, and his ability to light up a room with his sheer brilliant comedic talent. And Jack Reacher because I love how he just wanders through life with nothing but an expired passport and a foldable toothbrush, an inspiration leading a real hobo life.