Heat shield an in­no­va­tion

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - HEATHER BECK

BUSH­FIRES are re­spon­si­ble for mil­lions of dol­lars in prop­erty dam­age across Aus­tralia each year and a tragic loss of life but a lo­cal busi­ness­man has de­vel­oped a rev­o­lu­tion­ary an­swer.

Dain­tree res­i­dent Gwion Cain has de­vel­oped the Cain Heat Shield, a high-ten­sile fire proof blan­ket which pro­vides a bar­rier for homes and prop­erty against bush­fires.

From a field of 52 nom­i­na­tions, the shield is one of 20 en­tries which have been short­listed in the Peo­ple’s Choice cat­e­gory of the up­com­ing Trop­i­cal In­no­va­tion Awards.

Mr Cain came up with the idea about 11 years ago, when he was liv­ing in Syd­ney dur­ing the north­ern beaches bush fires and saw first-hand the dev­as­ta­tion they caused.

“I was driv­ing through the fires and just couldn’t un­der­stand why some­thing hadn’t been done,” he said.

“It ap­peared to be a rel­a­tively sim­ple task.”

Fif­teen years ex­pe­ri­ence in build­ing and de­sign led him to re­search a fire­proof fab­ric from Amer­ica that could be de­signed to pro­vide a high-strength cov­er­ing for homes and live­stock sheds.

It is put in place by throw­ing rub­ber balls at­tached to fine cords over the roof, be­fore two peo­ple pull the blan­ket over the house and fill a tube around the base with wa­ter.

A blan­ket for the whole house weighs just 40kg, is biodegrad­able and will with­stand high winds, while the 500 litres of wa­ter re­quired for the sta­bil­is­ing base can be drawn from a dam, tank or mains.

Mr Cain is en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to vote for the in­no­va­tive prod­uct in the hope it will at­tract fi­nan­cial sup­port to move the pro­ject for­ward.

“We need about $50,000 to cre­ate a work­able con­cept, but once we find that first backer and get a work­able pro­to­type I know we’ll get it to a com­mer­cial stage,” he said.

The blan­ket will re­tail at around $15,000 but Mr Cain said it will be aimed at in­surance com­pa­nies that could lease the blan­kets and place them in homes in fire-prone ru­ral ar­eas.

In the case of a se­vere bush fire when the blan­ket needed to be used, the in­surance com­pany would pay for the lease and the cost of the blan­ket, in­stead of fac­ing a claim for re­build­ing an en­tire home.

“In ru­ral fire ar­eas it should be manda­tory for ev­ery­one to have ac­cess to one, and if peo­ple are build­ing it should be fac­tored into their build­ing costs,” Mr Cain said. “Ev­ery­body wins.” Other lo­cal en­tries vy­ing for a plac­ing in the awards in­clude the Baby Free Time Mat, the pro­posed Moss­man Botanic Gar­den rain­for­est ar­bore­tum and the iTOURS in­ter­ac­tive tour and ac­tiv­ity book­ing App.

The awards will be pre­sented on Au­gust 12 and vot­ing is now open in the Peo­ple’s Choice cat­e­gory, visit www.trop­i­calin­no­va­tion­awards.com for tick­ets to the event and to vote.

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