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Arizona company helping in development of new fire shelters

PHOENIX — An Arizona company is helping in the development of a new firefighter shelter that could help save lives.

The new re-enforced shelters being developed by California-based Sun Seeker are said to be capable of withstanding 3,000 degree temperatures, according to CEO and founder Jim Moseley.

Moseley said that is three times the heat resistance of a traditional fire shelter, which are typically only able to withstand roughly 1,000 degree temperatures.

“You have to have something that out-performs the hottest fire potentials,” Moseley said. “(The) Yarnell (Hill Fire) was so hot it actually fractured boulders. So you have to have something like that, something that is re-enforced.”

The new shelters would have an extra layer of insulation in them to provide extra protection over the traditional shelters, which Moseley said are essentially layers of foil and fiberglass glued together.

“That doesn’t come anywhere near where it needs to be, it probably has a 30 percent survival rate,” Moseley said. “Ours we have a blanket that was used in the Space Shuttle for the last 20 (or) 30 years and it’s a blanket that has a 3,000 degree melting point.”
The shelters would also have a new spayed-on coating that is being developed by Sun Seeker that helps to suppress burning up to 3,000 degrees according to Moseley.

The extra insulation does increase the thickness of the shelter, so Sun Seeker has turned to Eloy, Ariz.-based Rigging Innovations to develop streamlined packaging for the shelters as well as ways for them to be easily and quickly deployed in a worst-case scenario.

Moseley said Sun Seeker has recently completed a prototype and the company has seen positive results during testing. He said he hopes to have the shelter in the field by June of next year.

Sun Seeker has been working to draw funding for the development of the shelters and more information can be found here.