White Rock’s Scott Kelly, a general contractor by trade, got the idea for his fire-prevention invention in 2000 when he was partway through a job on a 64-unit seniors-living complex in Metro Vancouver.
“I showed up at the site one morning and there (were) fire trucks in the yard,” Kelly told Peace Arch News Tuesday. “My heart was pounding, oh my goodness, what did we do?”
After talking to a supervisor, he found out that a resident was cooking, received a phone call to play bingo, and left her food on the stove.
Kelly said his team had to renovate the woman’s suite after the mishap.
“About two or three weeks later, a fire truck was there again,” he noted.
Kelly asked the supervisor, “what happened?”
“He said, ‘it happened again, this time she fell asleep.’ Different lady, but she just fell asleep.”
Kelly talked to the building owner about finding a product that could prevent this from reoccurring.
“What ended up happening is, I couldn’t find anything,” Kelly said of his search for a relevant product.
Shortly after, Kelly created the first prototype of his invention called, FireRanger.
The partially complete project sat on his shelf for years before he met up with childhood friend, Marvin Butt. Butt, Kelly said, was the inventor of the automatic sugar and cream dispensing machine used by Tim Hortons.
Together, they created FireRanger, which went to market last spring – after years of testing, including CAS certification.
The product comes in three components: a smoke sensor, a wireless keypad and a plug that connects the stove to the wall. It’s designed to cut the power to the stove after smoke is detected in the kitchen. The keypad features an emergency power button and system to lock the power to the oven.
Kelly believes his invention could have life-saving benefits.
“Just to give you a scenario. Mom’s home cooking, she has a spell or whatever when she’s cooking. She falls over and can’t get up to turn the stove off – the stove catches fire… If the smoke doesn’t kill her, the fire will. With this technology, in the same situation; mom falls over, she can’t reach the stove, the stove starts to smoke and it cuts the power out.”
“When the fire department shows up; different scenario. They’re showing up to a woman on the floor instead of a raging fire with a woman on the floor.”
Kelly sells his product for $395 on his website, www.firerangersafety.com, but says the most common suggestion he receives from his friends is to pitch the device to CBC’s Dragons’ Den.
He says he’s considering it but is hesitant – because the dragons are “ruthless.”
Though he’s never invented a product before, Kelly says he has an entrepreneurial spirit.
Originally from Halifax, he moved to Metro Vancouver in 1994 after the economy started to turn in his home province. After arriving in B.C., he found a job in construction. He said that every day – after finishing his shift – he would walk door-to-door to promote his skills as a general contractor, which he says was the beginning of his business, KF Kelly and Son Construction Ltd.