A California teen, Arul Mathur, invented a solution to help combat California wildfires, allowing regular citizens to take fire protection into their own hands. Inspired by the 2018 Camp Fire, Mathur says he developed FACE, or Fire Activated Canister Extinguisher. FACE is an autonomous fire suppression device that releases retardant when it detects fire. When placed in strategic locations, FACE can prevent homes from burning down, according to the teen.
Mathur launched a Kickstarter campaign https://bit.ly/3jPycyQ on July 1st with a goal of $5000 to make FACE available to the public for the impending fire season. So far it has raised over $13,000 and all the revenue generated will be donated to install FACE devices in fire-prone areas that need them the most. A single device is capable of protecting fire-risk areas in one’s house, while multiple can form a defensive perimeter around one’s entire property against low to moderate intensity fires.
“Over the past three years, there have been almost 7,500,000 acres of wildfire in California alone, destroying nearly 50,000 structures,” describes Arul Mathur. When a sensor on the device heats up to a certain temperature, a glycerin element bursts within, releasing an eco-friendly fire-retardant spray 5-6 feet in all directions with the aid of a sprinkler. The retardant can be re-filled quite easily, and the only other human-controlled aspect is the initial introduction of air-pressure into the canister which can be done manually through a valve at the top. Each unit will retail for $120 after production begins.
Mathur said in the summer of 2019, a wildfire spread so fast, coming from 10 miles away, it threatened to force his family to evacuate their home. “Thankfully, due to the bravery and diligence of my local fire department, the fire was contained and our house was saved but many other people weren’t so lucky.” That’s when he first began designing and engineering FACE. Mathur said he reasoned that by owning self-activating fire suppression, individuals no longer had to be reliant on the fire department to save their homes. “Firefighters could focus on containing the fire, while we, as residents, could control the fate of our property,”
The only existing market alternative for F.A.C.E is a manual extinguisher, or an automatic sprinkler system, which unless it can be installed during construction of the house, will normally cost between $1 to $3 dollars per square foot, amounting to many thousands for a family home. While 5-6 feet of spray isn’t enough to stop large fires, but if enough FACE units are placed in strategic areas, neighborhoods or rural communities can work together to prevent brush fires from becoming wildfires, or living room fires from becoming house fires. Mathur says “The ultimate goal is to bring FACE into the hands of everyone who lives in fire-prone areas so that they can protect themselves and their properties.”