Enter the Water Dome: Reviewing ideas for fighting wildfires

The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) is in Kamloops at a symposium this week

  • Mar. 6, 2019 2:39 p.m.

-Kamloops this Week

Innovative ideas to help aid the impending wildfire season are being evaluated by the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) in Kamloops at a symposium this week.

Vendors from more than 30 Canadian and international companies are making presentations at the BCWS office on Airport Road until this Friday.

Explaining how their technology and services could help fight the fires that have been so destructive in B.C. the past two years.

One of those companies is Aerochek Systems, which will demonstrate its Water Dome system on Wednesday afternoon.

In the event of a passing wildfire, the automated wildfire suppression system coats a home in water from sprinklers located on the roof, eaves and the ground, which are triggered by heat sensors.

“If people have to evacuate their house they can arm the system, leave the house and if the fire encroaches … it will start the whole system up and cause the house to get sprinkled with a dome of water, so henceforth [we called it] Water Dome,” said Aerochek president Glenn Berlow.

READ MORE: Okanagan hopes $111M in B.C. wildfire cash will extinguish fires this summer

Water Dome has a 1,000-gallon water tank and backup power supply to ensure the system will still work in the event water and power supplies are cut off due to the fire.

Those features also enable the product to protect structures in places those services are unavailable.

Berlow said there are three ways a fire burns down a home — radiant heat, direct flames or via flying embers, which Water Dome’s misty fog can keep at bay.

The system, Berlow estimated, could cost about $5,000 if he can install the units in bulk.

During his presentation, Berlow plans to push for the government to offer a grant to incentivize homeowners interested in Water Dome.

“Right now, we’re trying to get them to help us with some research to help standardize and possibly certify the product to a certain degree,” he said.

Aerochek has been developing the product for the past 18 months, he said.

READ MORE: Lake Country staff work to mitigate wildfire risk in Okanagan Centre

Dawn Makarowski, public affairs officer for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said the symposium will enable BCWS to examine proposals that might assist with wildfire preparedness, response and recovery. BCWS will then decide which ideas merit further discussion, demonstrations or field testing.

The recorded wildfire season in B.C. runs from April 1 to October each year.

The 2018 and 2017 seasons were the worst on record in terms of hectares burned and budget costs.

“I think they’re trying to shake some ideas out of the woodwork and see if there’s anything they can add to their set of resources,” said Berlow.

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