Student Designs Novel Extinguisher To Protect Homes From Wildfires

He built the device after his house almost burnt down two years ago.
Derya Ozdemir
Arul with the F.A.C.E deviceArul Mathur/YouTube

California is battling one of the biggest wildfires in its history. As the United States fights 96 large active wildfires that have consumed almost two million acres, a freshly started fire in the northern part of the state has displaced thousands of residents.

And the wildfire season is far from over.

A high school student offers a solution

Driven by the hope to give some peace of mind to those worried about the wildfires, a San Francisco high school student named Arul Mathur has designed a new type of firefighting equipment called the Fire Activated Canister Extinguisher, or F.A.C.E.

Arul was inspired to build the equipment after moving from New Jersey to California and witnessing firsthand just how deadly wildfires can be, he told New Atlas.

"I heard about the hundreds of thousands of people who evacuated their homes every year to flee from wildfires, but I never thought that I could be one of those people," Arul said. "Finally, in the summer of 2019, a wildfire threatened to force my family to evacuate our home. At that moment, it became personal. I knew that I needed to do something about it."

His invention, a self-contained, heat-activated fire suppression device, can help stop wildfires before they engulf acres of forests and homes, and it doesn't need someone to be there to use it.

How does F.A.C.E work?

The device is a metal canister packed with a blend of water and Cold Fire, an ecologically safe fire retardant, and features an air valve on top, an air pressure gauge on the side, and a sprinkler head on the bottom.

Student Designs Novel Extinguisher To Protect Homes From Wildfires
Source: F.A.C.E./Kickstarter

From a fence to an attic, F.A.C.E can be installed anywhere and contains a glycerin-bulb sprinkler that is activated when it hits 155°F (68°C), which is before materials like wood reach their flash point (the lowest temperature at which something will burn). As soon as that happens, the fire retardant disperses in a 360-degree spread, spraying 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 m) and increasing resistance to combustion by covering materials.

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Once you install F.A.C.E in your home or your fences, "it's there, it's ready, and it doesn't require any more manual intervention after that," Arul explained to NowThis Kids. They can even be placed in a way that forms a fire break that prevents flames from passing through.

"I reasoned that by owning self-activating fire suppression, individuals no longer had to be reliant on the fire department to save their homes," he said. "Firefighters could focus on containing the fire, while we, as residents, could control the fate of our property."

As of this writing, F.A.C.E. is still a prototype that hasn't been tested extensively, but you can back the project on Kickstarter. All earnings from F.A.C.E. sales will directly go toward donating the devices to regions with a high risk of wildfire.

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