When fire tore through Airedale International Air Conditioning last month, sending plumes of smoke hundreds of feet into the air, many people feared that the business would never rise again.
But staff at the Leeds firm have rolled their sleeves up and continued working at a temporary site, and bosses expect to return to their old home within the next 18 months. As a result, hundreds of Yorkshire manufacturing jobs have been saved.
Clive Parkman, the firm’s managing director, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I knew we had a very loyal and dedicated workforce, many of whom have been with Airedale since it started in 1974, but I’ve been astounded by the commitment of everyone, at every level. Our strength really is our people.”
On September 6, a massive fire ripped through the air conditioning factory in Rawdon on the outskirts of Leeds.
At its peak, 20 fire engines and 100 firefighters battled the blaze which devastated a three-storey warehouse building. Thick black smoke could be seen for miles around as the crews struggled to stop the inferno spreading through the factory. None of the 330 staff was injured, and the premises were evacuated shortly after the fire broke out at about 2.50pm.
The company has secured temporary premises in Leeds at Gelderd Lane, and bosses are working with architects on plans to design and build a new, state-of-the-art facility at its site in Rawdon.
“Following the fire, everyone has pulled together in a tremendous show of commitment to getting the business back up and running as quickly as possible,’’said Mr Parkman.
“When I first spoke with Tom Burke, chief executive of our parent company, Modine, his first question was to ask if anyone was hurt. Once assured that everyone was safe and accounted for, it was reassuring to know that we had the full support of Modine, both emotionally and in an operational sense.”
He added: “We are fully covered by our insurance, and this will allow us to develop a world-class facility of which the local region can be proud.
“The fire certainly won’t hold us back.”
Mr Parkman thanked Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds City Council, and local councillors, MPs and MEPs for their support.