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Faust’s firefighting service state’s top minority business

George Faust never planned for a career in firefighting, but hehas made the most of his opportunities in the service area.

Faust’s business, Professional Fire and Safety, was recentlynamed the Minority and Small Business of the Year for 2006 by theMississippi Development Authority’s Minority and Small BusinessDevelopment Division.

“Firefighting was not something I originally wanted to do,” hesaid. “I was introduced to it in 1991 when a business opportunityfell through.”

Faust accepted a position with the Brookhaven Fire Department in1992 as a means to support his family – wife Robin and childrenRachael and Georgette, now 14 and 10 years old respectively.

A few years later, in 1995, Faust recognized a need in thecommunity and turned addressing that need into a successfulbusiness opportunity.

“I was a firefighter and the business was my part-time businessfor a long time,” he said. “I noticed there were a lot of fires incertain parts of town. I determined in those areas that fireextinguishers and smoke detectors were what was missing and beganto supply them.

“Eventually,” he said, “the business sector responded and wemigrated towards providing full service at the customer’slocation.”

Faust quit the fire department in 2002 after 10 years of serviceto devote himself full-time to his growing business. He alsostopped operating from home and opened a business office on Highway51.

Professional Fire and Safety now focuses on major structuralfire suppression systems, primarily in restaurants.

“We build automatic fire suppression systems for anyone andcommercial stove hoods for restaurants,” he said.

The company also provides corporate training for companyemployees to certify them in the use of fire suppression devicesand sells and services fire extinguishers to area businesses.

Faust believes two major events within the past year greatlycontributed to his recognition by the MDA.

Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, Professional Fire andSafety received a government contract for work on the coast.

“Immediately following the storm, we shipped some emergencysupplies to (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), things likecook stoves and fire extinguishers, which led into other short-termgovernment contracts,” Faust said.

A few weeks later, a fire erupted in a debris field in Petal.Local firefighters were containing the fire with 4,000 gallons ofwater a minute drawn from a nearby creek, but were unable to put itout, Faust said. The fire burned for three weeks.

“They found us on the Web. They were looking for anenvironmentally-friendly way to put that fire out without resortingto caustic chemicals,” Faust said. “We couldn’t break away fromcommitments on the coast for two days, but then me and my employee,Lamont Sterling, put out that fire in 45 minutes using a product wesell. That’s documented.”

Professional Fire and Safety’s employees fluctuate with itsneeds, but Faust said the company generally maintains two full-timeand two part-time employees.