A FIRM providing firefighting equipment to 80% of fire brigades in the UK and Ireland has blazed a trail to win a top business award.

Holmfirth-based North Fire Ltd was named winner of the 16th annual Business of the Year Award run by Huddersfield law firm Eaton Smith with the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and business support body Business Link.

North Fire managing director Oliver North and colleague Rosalyn Raine received the trophy, a certificate and champagne at an awards breakfast held at the Cedar Court Hotel, Ainley Top, and attended by 250 guests.

Mr North, who set up the firm in 2008 after a career as an army PT instructor, said: “I was not expecting this! It is a massive pat on the back for the guys who have worked so hard since we started trading in 2008. There are so many well-established and successful businesses at these awards, so we feel really honoured to have been chosen.”

North Fire Ltd supplies fire trucks and fire fighting equipment from Austrian manufacturer Rosenbauer. It is also setting up a textile manufacturing operation to make protective clothing, which should double the size of its seven-strong workforce.

First runner-up in the awards was Edgerton-based Alexandra House Spa, which was launched in 2007 by Dr Maxine Stead. Second runner-up was Castleford-based cheesemonger and fine food wholesaler Cryer & Stott Ltd.

The winners were chosen from 12 monthly award recipients in the competition run by Eaton Smith, the Lockwood-based chamber and Business Link. All companies in Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield are eligible to take part.

Andrew Sugden, senior partner at Eaton Smith, said that despite the difficult economic climate, the news was not all gloomy. “Businesses and individuals in this area show an ability to adapt to changing markets and innovate to compete in the UK and abroad,” he added.

Mick Fortune, of Liversedge architectural metalwork firm AS Fabrications, which won the annual award last year, told how the 50-strong firm had won prestigious multi-million contracts – and now had a full order book for the year.