SUWON, South Korea, April 3 (Korea Bizwire) – Two firemen – Hong Eui-sun and Baek Jung-yeol – from the Gyeonggi Disaster and Safety Headquarters came up with an idea for new fire extinguishers two years ago when a survey revealed that majority of the public was not aware of how to use fire extinguishers and hydrants.
According to the Gyeonggi-do Family & Women Research Institute, only 8.5 percent of female respondents in the province said they were fully able to operate a fire extinguisher, with the rate for men at 40.2 percent. Fire hydrants were even less familiar to locals at only 2.3 percent and 20.5 percent, respectively.
The idea from Hong and Baek was simple – to equip the tools with voice guidance. After visiting several fire safety fairs and contacting local firms with the necessary technology, Hong and Baek managed to develop a “talking fire extinguisher” and a “talking hydrant.”
The new fire extinguisher has an audio device attached to its body with the safety pin, spray nozzle and the handle each labeled with numbers one, two and three. Upon pressing a button on the audio device, the extinguisher guides the user through “removing the safety pin labeled number one, pointing the nozzle number two at the fire, and grabbing the handle number three and spray.”
A similar mechanism was added to the newly-developed fire hydrant, which provides audio guidance once the cabinet (that contains the hydrant) door is opened.
The two new devices have been a success. Last June, they received the top score at the Young Idea Audition, which the provincial government hosted to gather innovative ideas from young public service members; an official patent application was also filed with the Korea Intellectual Property Office in December of last year, and an international patent application was filed on March 10 of this year.
“It was a small idea that we thought could improve public safety,” said Baek. “I hope the devices help women and the physically weak to operate the extinguishers when there’s a fire, while helping to minimize panic.”
In February, the provincial government signed a sales contract with the Korea Fire Industry Cooperative to sell 16,970 of the fire extinguishers. Another deal with Taesan Co. helped install 11 of the fire hydrants in Bundang District, Seongnam, with 50 more scheduled for installation in coming months.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)