Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Whole-house fire shelters

It's incredible what you can find on the Internet.

Many of us are familiar with the practice of wrapping a house that will be threatened by a wildland fire with "fire shelter wrap"... similar to the material used in personal fire shelters--as in the picture below, taken on the Big Fish fire in Colorado in 2002. (It worked, by the way.)

But a number of patents have been issued for devices or systems that would wrap an entire house, theoretically in short order, by one-piece units or systems that would deploy the fire resistant material mechanically.

The unit below, patent #5,860,251, issued January 19, 1999, uses inflatable tubes to erect the flexible fabric over an entire structure. Many large fires are wind-driven. I wonder what the effect of a 50 MPH wind would be on the inflatable structure? It would probably end up in the next county.

The system in the photo below, patent #5,829,200, issued November 3, 1998, uses winches, rollers, and pulleys pre-installed on the house to deploy fire resistant material stored on rolls.

I have no idea if these two systems have ever been developed or manufactured, but you have to admit they are, uh, interesting.

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