Our products not only bring water to the world, they save lives
February 20, 2013
McWane products are a vital part of everyday life and play a critical role in bringing water to the world, but did you know that our products are also helping save lives in Australia? McWane team member, Ted Schaefer, Solberg General Manager for Asia Pacific invented a product known as FIRE-BRAKE and that invention was featured in a book entitled “A-Z of Inventions and Discoveries in Technology”. This publication highlights significant inventions of Australians that have improved people’s lives. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
In December 1993, New South Wales had some of its worst bushfires ever. Hundreds of thousands of hectares burned, homes and farms were destroyed and four people died. It was time to try something new in bushfire fighting. Ted Schaefer, a Canadian scientist working in Sydney for a US company, had been experimenting with a new firefighting chemical called ‘FIRE-BRAKE foam’. It was a kind of detergent that made water ‘wetter’, so it would soak right into timber or leaves, and take longer to evaporate. Chemicals that slow down materials from catching fire had been used in the USA and Canada for many years. However, the bushfires that raged through Australia’s eucalypt forests needed their own kind of foam. This is because eucalypts (gum trees) contain large amounts of oil, which burns very fast and hot.
Tonnes of FIRE-BRAKE foam were quickly manufactured and delivered to firefighters, who found it worked well. Sprayed on the fire, FIRE-BRAKE foam quickly doused flames. When sprayed ahead, it
soaked right into leaves, timber and bark, making it harder for them to catch alight. When dropped from an aircraft, water with FIRE-BRAKE foam in it stuck together in a huge sheet, rather than turning into a mist, and floated down over burning scrub, completely smothering it.
Ted’s FIRE-BRAKE invention has saved thousands of acres and countless homes in Australia from destruction by bushfire. We are proud and honored to have Ted as a member of the Team!
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