Sudbury entrepreneur hopes new design will help protect camps during wildfire season

Retired firefighter Ken Roy has designed a portable sprinkler system that home and cottage owners can install around their properties to protect any structure.

Ken Roy turns his expertise in fighting fires into help for cottage owners

Ken Roy, designer of a sprinkler system that can attach to cottages and homes to create a 'humidity bubble,' protecting the structure from forest fires. (Casey Stranges/CBC)

A retired firefighter has gone from battling blazes on the ground to helping homeowners protect themselves against destructive fires. 

Sudbury's Ken Roy, head of Firebug, has designed a portable sprinkler system that home and cottage owners can install around their properties to protect any structure.

Now, he hopes to convince fire departments and provincial ministries that his invention is worth a look.

The sprinkler system operates like a 4-port manifold or hub, which, once hooked up to a water source like a hydrant, pond, or lake, creates a "humidity bubble" around any structure.

Ken Roy's design will allow homeowners to tap into this manifold to help form a "humidity bubble" around any structure. (Casey Stranges/CBC)

Roy told CBC's Morning North he made the product after watching fire crews struggle with limited resources.

"Our country is so vast, we can't take care of every inch of it, right? We can't protect every inch of it, so mother nature is naturally going to take it over," Roy said.

Roy said in especially combustible summers, planning ahead can mean the difference between protecting and losing property.

According to Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources, a total of 13 structures were lost this year due to forest fires.

"Typically, you get a six hour window from the Ministry that tells you a wildfire is encroaching," Roy said.

"By preplanning and installing these brackets, you can set it up and within minutes you can start up the pump and the water going."

Roy said it operates in a similar way to how a building's sprinkler system can activate throughout many rooms simultaneously, but on a smaller, more portable scale.

"If you plan, you have a good chance of lowering risk," he said.

Roy said he is currently working with the British Columbia Fire Service and the Ontario Fire Marshall on getting these devices to fire crews.

To find out more, you can visit his website at

To listen to the interview with Ken Roy, click on the audio link below.

The threat of losing your house or family cottage to a wildfire is becoming increasingly real for people in northern Ontario. Hundreds of people were evacuated from communities this summer as forest fires raged across the northeast, but a retired firefighter from Sudbury has come up with a way that may save cottages and homes from wildfires, or at least limit the damage. Ken Roy's company Firebug, has built a device that he's currently marketing to provincial governments. Ken spoke with the CBC's Peter Williams. 9:40