Prepping for Pfizer

Managing Director of Biosafety Brett Cole ready to decontaminate the UK factory.

A Ferntree Gully business is playing an integral role in the worldwide roll-out of the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine, having recently been chosen to decontaminate a UK warehouse to allow more doses of the vaccine to be manufactured at the site.

The local decontamination company, Biosafety, recently sent two employees to the UK to complete the decontamination process, including Managing Director Brett Cole.

Having returned from the UK on Sunday night, Mr Cole said “the project was a big project to be involved in”.

“So for a local Ferntree Gully business we do alright,” he said humbly.

Biosafety Operations Manager Michael Francis described the business as a “high containment decontamination company”.

“We offer a chlorine dioxide decontamination that is of a really high level. We are the only company in Australia licensed to do that, and one of a very small number of companies around the world that can do it,” Mr Francis explained.

“Because of who we are and what we do, our owner Brett Cole is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet in decontaminating large spaces and was identified as the person that needed to be there to oversee the project to make sure it is done correctly,” he said.

Biosafety’s work typically involves decontaminating large “ultra clean environments” and controlled spaces, including laboratories, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals, but this UK job is the company’s largest decontamination job to date.

“A vast three-storey manufacturing facility is being completely sealed up and pumped full of chlorine dioxide gas to kill any little bugs so that it is a completely sterile, clean environment for Pfizer to complete the vaccine in,” Mr Francis explained.

Mr Francis said the UK job required around 290 cylinders of gas.

“As a comparison, we did a job in Bayswater where we used 72 large bottles. That was considered a very large job. So in the scope of what’s happening in the UK, this is huge, it’s a vast job,” he said.

“Imagine a building being wrapped up in plastic. It has to be humidified to over 65 degrees, then gassed, and then all the gas is sucked out. The entire process takes around three days.”

According to Mr Francis, Biosafety had been in consultation with the hygiene and decontamination companies for “almost 12 months”, but the complexities of Covid-19 and the extreme scale of the project meant it couldn’t happen overnight.

“It wasn’t as simple as just turning around and saying everyone jump on a plane. Australia has its own rules in regards to overseas travel and the UK risk is quite huge so we had to pull all those things together,” Mr Francis said.

Mr Francis said it is great for a local company to be recognised as a world leader.

“We are just a tiny little company out the back of Ferntree Gully with a handful of employees but in many ways we are leading the world in what we do, which is a really great thing,” he said.