The problem was identified with a simple question; "why?" Why isn't there anything protecting the head and face of workers in environments with a high risk of flash fire?
In the Spring of 2013, while watching a video of the standard ASTM F1930 flash fire garment test, we posed the question; "what about the head and face?” The standard response was that it is expected that the head and face will experience 100% 3rd degree burns during the test.
It was unacceptable to us than we should just accept 100% 3rd degree burns on your face and our quest to solve this problem began.
The Oil and Gas industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars per year protecting their workers by supplying FR coveralls, FR parkas, FR base layers, FR shirts and pants, FR gloves, hard hats, steel toed boots and protective eye-wear. Sure, there are FR balaclavas that offer head and face protection, but unless it is the middle of the winter, who is going to wear them? The challenge was to come up with a solution that was passive in its natural state, but would react to protect the worker in the event of a flash fire.
Cooler Heads began researching FR fabrics, airbag technology, CO2 technology, sensor technology and other related technologies and came up with a concept.
In December 2013, we had enough drawings, schematics and descriptions to file for a patent and in the spring of 2014 we received funding from NRC-IRAP for the R & D for the proof of concept portion of this project. After months of concept iterations, research, design and development, the answer was born and by March 2015, we had achieved proof of concept. Later in 2015 we tested our system in a live, flash fire test at the PCERF lab at the University of Alberta. Without our protective system, the test mannequin always registered 100% third degree burns to the head and face area. With our system in place, and automatically deploying when the flame test was activated, the test mannequin registered 0% third degree burns. At that point we knew we had developed something that would change the way we looked at safety in many industries around the world. We continued our R&D, with the support of NRC-IRAP and have completed our Alpha stage prototype as of April 2018. The electronics and sensors have been completely redesigned and tested, the shield has been modified to provide even more protection, the collar has been redesigned to meet the requirements of a demanding workplace and we have even determined that our system will work to protect workers from steam and hot liquid discharges.
We are set for our product roll out phase and will have systems available in Q4 2019. Pre-orders are being accepted now.