Meet Ray Hope, a recognised member of the FIA Services Council. Delve into Ray's milestones, from a career shift in his late 20s to the sacrifices that led to the establishment of his own fire systems service business. Explore his insights on industry improvement, his proudest family achievement, and gain valuable advice for those entering the field.

25 March 2024 by Charlotte Brill, Content Marketing Executive

My name’s Ray Hope, I am the Managing Director and Founder of RayFire Services Ltd, I sit on the FIA services council (since 2019). I come from a family that has worked in the fire industry for as long as I can remember; I joined it a little later after a career switch in my late 20’s. During my time in the industry, I have held various roles from being an apprentice at a small local company to a technical design consultant at a global fire company before we formed RayFire Services ltd. We formed the company initially to help local SME businesses achieve compliance, but now the business has grown to become a UK wide service provider with the slogan “compliance made simple”. I am a firm believer in upskilling and development of people through quality training and support to ensure the standards within the industry overall.

What initially attracted you to join the fire industry?

My dad was the managing director of a fire panel manufacturing company and when I was looking to make a career change aged 27 after selling my share of a retail company, he encouraged me to meet up with an old friend of his who was looking to retire. The idea was I would get qualified and purchase the company from him when he was ready to retire. I had been brought up around the industry as my dad had been in it almost my entire life, so it seemed like an obvious thing to do, however, working for my Dad’s company was never an option as I had always done my own thing when it came to work, this would never have worked out, so this was a different route to take into what was clearly a great industry to work in.

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

I am most proud of our achievement as a family, when we were living a comfortable lifestyle with me, an employee for one of the biggest Fire Systems Service providers worldwide, I had an itch to go it alone and set up on my own. 

I sat down and asked my wife and kids to see if they would be willing to make some sacrifices so I could take a risk and set up our own Fire systems service business.

The fact that they supported me without question from the beginning makes me most proud.

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

The levels of competency must be at the forefront of any improvement aims within the industry, specific training and experience is essential to ensure delivery of services to end users and people of responsibility in business is at the highest possible standards.

Whether it’s fire risk assessors determining the risk, engineers designing systems or building occupiers hitting a call point, each individual should have enough knowledge to understand their responsibilities.

Training and development through CPD and certified bodies is essential and should be made as mandatory as possible.

Investment by companies through approved apprenticeship schemes to develop engineers properly is a great example of how to achieve this within the engineering aspects.

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

I would like to be able to hand over the day to day running of the operations to the team, as they develop through promotion within, enabling everyone to continue the career development from new apprentices to fully qualified commissioning engineers and then upwardly into management. This would enable me to work with the local college and other training providers to help promote the development of the industry as a whole.

I would like the business to expand into all major regions of the UK with the same philosophy as above, while being able to keep up the same level of service and competency throughout.

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

Develop your knowledge as much as you can and complete as much approved training before you start working independently, then aim to continue to learn every day no matter how knowledgeable and experienced you may get.

Take full advantage of more experienced people doing the job by asking questions no matter how obvious it may seem.

Do not guess, if you don’t know the answer, ask someone who does or do some research.

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

The training and development areas have improved dramatically in the last few years, with the introduction of some former field-based experienced engineers to the technical team, the support levels, and the increase and improvements to the publications and guidance information available on the website to all are excellent.

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

Football, I follow NUFC home and away to all games with the family and we often visit customers and sites we look after when travelling around the country.

What superpower would you have and why?

The power to Heal people. Helping people have a healthy and satisfying life without ailments.

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

The Maldives, hopping between islands because the levels of relaxation and calm are better than anywhere else I have ever been, the people are also calm and caring.

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

Sir Bobby Robson, Kevin Keegan and Mike Bassett (England Manager)