Company hopes to curb wildfire destruction

Thursday, April 1, 2004

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Each year, wildfires consume millions of dollars in homes and other property in the United States. The former public information officer for the U.S. Forest Service is hoping that his new company can do something to change that.

Jim Paxon is a partner in Hydroshield, a company that has developed an external roof-top sprinkler system that delivers water and a fire retardant to help save homes from destruction.

The Hydroshield Wildfire Protection System is installed outside a home and requires an electrical outlet and a standard water service line. A certified technician inspects the completed installation to ensure that it has been done properly, Paxon said.

Once it has been installed and inspected, the Hydroshield system monitors the system via satellite, which incorporates Fire Mapper software. If hot embers fall on the roof of a monitored home, oscillating sprinklers douse the roof with a retardant that is similar to what helicopters and planes drop to fight fires. The liquid mixture then creates a humidity envelope around the house that is designed to prevent it from catching fire.

The system continues to re-treat the home periodically until the fire threat has passed. Homeowners can also request that their homes be treated before the sytstem automatically activates.

Paxon has partnered with Jerry Palmer and George Zugmeir to create Hydroshield, which was incorporated in November 2003. At present, Paxon said, the company is still seeking capital investment partners.

At press time, the company was planning to open a 7,000-square-foot office in the Deer Valley Airpark in Phoenix.

Paxon said he has demonstrated Hydroshield to insurance representatives and fire chiefs in Arizona. The company hopes to have the product evaluated by Underwriters Laboratories in the near future, which will open the door for insurance companies to recommend it to their clients.

While Hydroshield, like any business, hopes to make a profit, Paxon said that having seen the devastation up-close, he wants to be responsible as well as profitable.

“Our corporation is looking to make a profit, but we are doing it in a way that is serving the public, especially for those living in fire-prone areas,” he said.

Paxon said the goal is for Hydroshield to sign on distributors in various regions to sell and service systems.