Bryan Coffey shows off the Water Winger, a special sprinkler which can be quickly and safely dragged onto the roofs of homes to protect them from wildfires (Jim Elliot - Salmon Arm Observer)

B.C. inventor creates rooftop sprinklers to protect from wildfires

The Water Winger can be placed at the peak of a roof without climbing a ladder

With summer wildfires becoming a part of life in B.C.’s Interior, a Salmon Arm man has created an innovative way for property owners to protect their homes and other buildings.

Bryan Coffey spent years refining his design for a special sprinkler he calls the Water Winger. The result is a powerful sprinkler system fitted with wheels and spring-loaded stainless-steel arms which allow it to be pulled over the eaves of any style of a roof with ropes and then sit snugly on the top.

The idea for the Water Winger came in 2003 when Coffey scrambled to protect the remote cabin he was living in from a wildfire near Adams Lake. The destructive McLure-Barriere fire was many kilometres away and Coffey didn’t expect it to affect him, but then suddenly ash and singed pine needles began to drift down from the summer sky. A small satellite fire, ignited by drifting embers of the McLure-Barriere blaze, had started only two kilometres from the cabin.

Read More: Update: Video of large grass fires near Chase

Read More: Wildfire breaks out northeast of Squamish

Coffey had a canoe set up at the water’s edge, ready to make his escape if the fire spread, but he decided something should be done to save the cabin. He thought the best place for a sprinkler was the roof of the cabin and began rigging up safety lines for work on the roof as he did when he cleaned the chimney.

Along with the problem of getting onto the roof safely, Coffey found his garden sprinklers ill-suited to the task of spraying from the peak of a steep roof. As he was rigging up a mount for the garden sprinklers out of spare lumber, word came that the wildfire service had doused the oncoming fire and Coffey’s cabin was safe. The impression Coffey was left with was there must be a safer and more effective way to protect structures from wildfires.

After numerous prototypes built in his workshop and eventually tested by local fire department structural protection units, Coffey introduced a market-ready version of the Water Winger on April 1.

The finished device can be dragged onto the very peak of a roof using ropes, without any potentially-dangerous ladder climbing necessary; its spring-loaded arms provide a sturdy base for the heavy-duty sprinkler.

The Water Winger is designed to be pulled onto roofs by throwing a weighted rubber ball about the size of a tennis ball attached to a very strong arborists’ line over the roof. For larger buildings, a tennis-ball thrower, like the kind commonly seen at dog parks, can be used to increase distance. Once the line is over the top of the roof Coffey said the sprinkler can be hauled to the peak in minutes.

Read More: Smoke from wildfire is like a ‘chemical soup,’ says fire researcher

Read More: Crews fighting 250-hectare wildfire near Kamloops

To prevent damage to the Water Winger as it is pulled over the eaves of roofs, many of the key components are made of stainless steel. Coffey said the all-metal construction also makes the Water Winger suitable for long-term storage.

Coffey said the device was originally designed with structural protection units in mind, but he did not anticipate the demand he is seeing from homeowners looking to take steps to protect their homes. Of the approximately 20 Water Wingers Coffey and a few employees who help with assembly have made and sold, he said about half have been to home owners with the other half going to structural protection units.

Further information and videos of the Water Winger in action can be found at www.waterwinger.ca


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Carsen Gray set to launch first children’s book co-created with mom Lynn Hughan

Gray, Hughan launch ‘Twelve Months of Fun on Haida Gwaii with Mattie and Jojo’ on July 23

Federal government urged to protect rare moss clinging to life on Moresby Island cliff

Scientists say small patch of slender yoke-moss struggling to survive on square metre of limestone

Southern section of QC Main temporarily closing this month

QC Main (South) will be closed to all traffic at about 5 kilometres from July 21 to 28

From the archives of the Haida Gwaii Observer

50 YEARS AGO (1970): Nine of 12 entries in the Beach Buggy… Continue reading

BC Ferries reopens limited hot food service between Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert

Release on July 8 says hot food will be served in packaging

VIDEO: Masset Dance Troupe presents beachfront ‘promenade performance’

Troupe performed ‘A Mid Summer Day’s Dream’ for family, friends on July 4 and 5

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read