This March, a video of a “magic ball” almost instantly extinguishing a small fire has been making the rounds on the blogosphere. The popular Gawker Media-run tech website Sploid/Gizmodo highlighted the Elide Fire Ball, a new-ish fire extinguishing product.
The site described the bizarre extinguisher in giddy terms: “The Elide fire ball must be filled with magic potion because it can get thrown into any fire and put out immediately. Watch this demo video of it as it gets tossed around and turns flame into smoke. Sorcery!”
The video itself isn’t actually new (it first went live in 2013), so it’s not entirely clear why the amateur video is suddenly picking up some viral heat. The ball was designed by inventors in Thailand, who wanted an easy-to-use, fast-acting fire suppression tool. On their website, they write, “Simply thrown into a fire, it will activate within 3 seconds and effectively disperse-extinguishing chemicals.”
While it’s an interesting idea, there’s a reason you don’t see magic fire balls in wide use in the United States. The promotional video itself isn’t exactly a strong endorsement either. In the background, you can see someone struggling to put out a torch, and the people on-screen don’t exactly display recommended fire safety procedure.
While the idea of a magic, DIY firefighting tool might sound appealing, ultimately tried and true fire protection services are your best bet for safety. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there is no record of a fire killing more than two people in any building with complete and operational fire sprinkler systems. There’s also evidence that the latest fire protection systems are working. Warehouse fires have dropped sharply in the last 30 years, from 4,700 in the 1980s to just 1,200 in 2011.
If you really want to improve safety in properties you own or manage, then commercial fire alarm systems are a good place to start. Of course, many people do choose to combine commercial fire alarm systems with some kind of fire sprinkler systems, but ultimately, you need some kind of early warning system to alert both people in the building and the authorities. But commercial fire alarm systems aren’t the only thing you can do. In one recent survey of 119 business, just 35% had a fire evacuation plan.
There’s no need for gimmicks or DIY heroics when it comes to fire safety, just proper planning, preparation, and safety equipment.