Four Summerland firefighters will be in Toronto later this month to present a rescue device to the business experts at the Dragon’s Den television show.
The CBC show is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch business concepts and products to a panel of Canadian business experts who have the cash and ability to develop the ideas.
Volunteer firefighters Billy Boerboom, Duncan Dube, John Gove and assistant fire chief Chad Gartrell began working on their invention 18 months ago, following a practice at Boerboom’s Windmill Apple barn packing house.
The training session was for the rapid intervention team, made up of firefighters who are sent to rescue one of their own who is in trouble at a fire.
The traditional rescue method involves going into the building, finding the fallen firefighter and dragging him or her out of the building.
This task is difficult since a firefighter’s oxygen tanks and protective gear adds close to 25 kilograms. Since the firefighter is unable to move without assistance, he or she must be dragged from the site. This is a strenuous task for the rescue team members.
“I kept thinking there’s got to be a better way,” Boerboom said. “What we wanted to do was to make a more efficient way to rescue a firefighter.”
The four, who have 55 years of combined firefighting experience, devised a small collapsible cart. The downed firefighter is strapped to the cart and pulled out of the building much more easily.
Dubé said firefighters are more likely to suffer heart attacks than burns while on the scene at a fire. A fallen firefighter must be rescued from the fire quickly in order to receive proper medical treatment. He said the cart will significantly shorten the time it takes to rescue a firefighter.
He said part of the challenge came because they were working with a new concept.
“We were starting with an idea,” he said. “We were building something which had never been built before.”
Boerboom said firefighters with assistance from Bob Webb, Boerboom’s father in law built three prototypes before they reached their final version.
While the cart has changed from its original plans, Gartrell said the basic design has remained the same.
Canadian and U.S. patents are already in place for the device.
The four will present their invention to producers at the Dragon’s Den television show in Toronto on May 7.
They believe the device will eventually be used by fire departments throughout North America.
“I’m really proud of this department,” Boerboom said. “We’re going to make it go.”
“We’re really proud to be from this town,” Dubé said. “We’re really proud to be representing Summerland.”
The (final cart was fabricated by B…) fabrication work for the cart was done by B and L Machine Shop in Penticton while the canvas fabric was done by Kangabags of Summerland.
The complete device weighs around seven kilograms and can roll or slide.
This is the second time they will show their idea to the Dragon’s Den panel. A year ago, the device was presented to the show but was rejected at the time. Since then, the four have made improvements in order to present it again.