From Fire Fighter to EMT to Captain to Business Tycoon, there is just no stopping Sean Collins, owner of Star Fire Extinguisher.
Sean was born in Marianna, but his family moved to Wausau, when he was about three years old. Sean’s stepfather’s job was transferred to Panama City when the Coca Cola Plant was shut down. After Sean graduated from Vernon High School in 1989, he returned to Marianna and got a feel for the working world.
In November 1990, Sean started working for the Marianna Fire Department as a fire fighter. Sean obtained his minimum standard requirements for State Fire Fighter Certification, and for the next 25 years, he went to school learning as much as possible, obtaining different certifications.
When Sean started working for the City of Marianna, the fire department didn’t provide any medical assistance. During the 1990s, Sean taught minimum standards at Chipola College. In 1997, the City of Marianna made the decision to provide emergency medical services off the fire trucks, which was cutting edge at that time. “Panama City is still not doing it,” Sean explained. The fire fighters went to EMT school and obtained certifications.
Sean shared how when someone has a heart attack, they need oxygen within five minutes. “It took over five minutes for an ambulance to get to the City of Marianna,” he continued. “We needed to help our citizens.” Sean retired after 25 years from the Marianna Fire Department in 2015 as a Shift Captain. Sean did not pursue the Fire Chief position, because 10 years into his work at the Marianna Fire Department, he purchased a fire extinguisher company.
In 2000, Sean began working for the owner of Star Fire Extinguisher for additional income when he wasn’t working at the City of Marianna. The company was located in Blountstown. About a year later, he purchased the company. Sean is approaching the 19th anniversary of owning Star Fire Extinguisher. He worked both jobs for many years while raising children alone.
While there are many things that Sean and his staff could do at Fire Star Extinguisher, he explained, “We try to focus on doing four things well.” First, they sell and service fire extinguishers. Second, they sell, service and install emergency lighting. Third, they do high-pressure hydro testing. Finally, they design and test restaurant suppression systems.
Sean shared how his company is the only company in the region that has a fire extinguisher license. Their competition is in Panama City and Tallahassee. In addition, they are one in about four or five, from Pensacola to Jacksonville, with a license for high-pressure hydro testing. This allows them to check fire department breathing air-pack bottles, SCUBA tanks and any style pressure vessel of oxygen, acetylene, and breathing air. The company invested in the equipment to conduct testing just prior to his retirement at the Marianna Fire Department. This enables the company to service the bottles for a lot of people in the diving community.
Sean and his team design and install suppression systems for restaurants. “We design the system, put up the tanks, and do all the black iron piping, which allows us to provide protection over commercial cooking equipment in restaurants and hotels,” Sean shared.
The Star Fire Extinguisher service area is from Pensacola to Troy, Alabama, Monticello and down to the beaches — about 22 counties in Florida and Alabama. “We see around 5,500 customers annually,” Sean added. “My education and experience from Fire Department service has definitely helped me over the years, from purchasing to dealing with the public.” Through his experience in teaching and work, he has come to know so many people in the communities throughout the region.
Sean still maintains all his licenses. He’s a licensed Fire Inspector, Fire Instructor, EMT, and Fire Fighter. Sean has a staff of three at Star Fire Extinguisher. Matt Williams, a Fire Extinguisher Technician, has worked with Sean about 14 years, part-time. John Tillman, Sean’s son-in-law, has worked with him about two years, full-time. Finally, Eric DeLoach, a Captain at the Marianna Fire Department, has been working part-time with Sean for about a year. Sean’s long-range goal is for John and Megan Tillman to one day take over the business. In the meanwhile, Sean has three vans that travel the area typically five days a week, but some months, six days a week.
Sean feels like the economy is better in every way. “In the field work we work in, safety, which for most companies doesn’t have a budget, because they’ve got to have it.” Once they get in the door, Sean and his staff can train them. If it’s a restaurant, they can help with the commercial hood system.
Sean shared a new venture that he is undertaking. “We are in the process of purchasing Chipola Building Supply on Penn Avenue,” Sean explained. He would like to house an electrical supply shop there. While he doesn’t know what the property will be used for, he feels it will lend itself to something good on that side of town. The lease of the property will be handled by another company Sean owns called Iron Man Investments. “I got that name because I do the Iron Man Triathlons” he shared.
Sean is married to Kimberly Collins, who works for Jackson County School Board. Not only is the couple happy, but their family continues to grow. Sean’s stepdaughter is Megan Weaver Tillman, a Nurse Practitioner at Dothan Hematology and Oncology. Sean has two daughters, Kylie Collins Massey and Kayla Collins. Kylie and her husband live in Dothan, Alabama, where she is a catheterization lab RN at Southeast Medical Center. Kayla is a loan officer at Tyndall Federal Credit Union in Port St. Joe. Sean’s son, Cody Collins works for the City of Graceville. Sean and Kimberly have three grandchildren and one on the way.
What a great business to have in Marianna! To find out more, call 850-526-1002 or visit Star Fire Extinguisher at 4206 Kelson Ave., in Marianna, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Most of their service is on the road, so they are not always at the office. However, they can still answer calls. You can email Sean and his team at Star Fire Extinguisher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the City of Marianna’s website at http://www.mariannafl.city/335/New-Businesses-and-Other-Community-News to learn more about new businesses. Shop locally and support Marianna businesses.