Heat shield an innovation
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.