Snuffing the Flames

Sheen LeDuc

Photo By therese marucci

Sheen LeDuc, a Chico resident, read the CN&R’s Streetalk question a few weeks ago regarding how to protect homes from fire, and thought, I have an answer! While LeDuc currently works in association with Jamison Irish Paints, a company that sells fireproof paint, he also has invented a fire-protection product that is radically different. The invention acts as a “fireproof blanket” that can be ejected from the home at the first sign of fire and will cover the house, making the fire pass right over it—no fuel, no fire. LeDuc is just in the blueprint phases, but he’s already sent the idea to the U.S. Department of Forestry Research and Development to be evaluated. He hopes the idea will take off and, sooner than later, help people save their homes from catastrophe.

What got you started in this line of work?

It all began in the Boy Scouts many, many years ago, when they were teaching us about protecting yourself from fire. They told us about the two ways—covering yourself with a wet blanket, and smothering the fire. I chewed this over for a long time while I kept seeing people’s homes catch on fire. Putting out a fire with water seems to be such an ancient technique. Why wait for a fire to happen to mitigate it?

How long do you think it will take to get your invention out on the market?

Well, all I have so far is some rough drawings. I would like to form a business and do research and development. I want to get this product on the market as soon as possible, and hopefully get help from the Chico State Engineering Department to help develop it. With enough energy put into it, it could be out within a year.

Why do you want to start this business in Chico?

No main reason, except that it’s where I live. However, I will say that even though I lived in Los Angeles and San Jose, last summer Chico was the smoggiest place I’ve ever experienced. People were walking around in masks; it was so dark. My friend’s home in Paradise burned down, and I watched people lose both their memories and their money.

Did you get any inspiration for this product from a fire that personally affected you?

I once had a tiny bout with a fire, but I was also around for the Oakland fires. It was amazing to see how quickly all of those really expensive homes were thrashed.

Why do you think fireproof paint isn’t a popular form of protection for a home?

Whoever is doing the marketing for the paint isn’t doing a very good job. If I was the one marketing for it, it would be on every home. It would almost be required by law.