Salmon Arm rooftop sprinkler inventor ahead of the curve - InfoNews

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Salmon Arm rooftop sprinkler inventor ahead of the curve

Bryan Coffey with his invention, the Water Winger.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Bryan Coffey
June 18, 2019 - 7:00 AM

SALMON ARM - When Salmon Arm resident Bryan Coffey first thought to make an easy-to-install rooftop sprinkler system that would protect homes during wildfires, he knew he had a good idea.

That idea came to him in 2003. When he decided to google it almost 15 years later he was surprised no one had the same idea and beat him to it.

Over the years, Coffey had built several prototypes and wrote business plans for his invention, but his full-time job running his own sound equipment business meant he never took his idea further until recently.

Now he's flat-out trying to keep up with the demand.

"I guess I'm a victim of my own success," Coffey jokes.

Coffey launched the Water Winger earlier this year and can't believe the amount of interest - and orders - he'd had for his invention.

"It's overwhelming," he said. "From the moment I wake up to the moment I pass out, I'm working on it."

The Water Winger is a rooftop sprinkler system designed to protect homes from wildfires. The sprinkler is attached to a piece a rope which can then be thrown over a building and the sprinkler can be pulled on to the roof. The sprinkler can dispense water up to a distance of 50 feet, spraying 9.5 gallons of water a minute.

Coffey says wildfire crews have used rooftop sprinklers for years, but unlike the ones used by professionals that are installed using ladders and often nailed to the roof, Coffey wanted to produce something anyone could use simply.

Vernon Fire Rescue Services Chief David Lind told sprinklers can be a good tool in the right situation and wasn't worried that the water used by the sprinkler would affect water supplies for fire crews putting out fires.

Coffey said he got the idea while carrying a sprinkler and climbing onto the roof of the isolated cabin where he was living in Adams Lake in 2003, as wildfires encroached.

"I thought, 'man if I could just pull the sprinkler up and stay on the ground,'" he said.

And while the idea sounds simple, designing something functional that is guaranteed to work when you need it the most is far more complicated than it sounds.

Now that Coffey has perfected his invention and spent thousands of dollars on a patent, he's faced with another problem — trying to produce enough from his garage workshop to fulfill orders. He's currently still a one-man show and says he's sunk thousands of dollars into equipment to speed production along. He's even taken the unusual step of stopping his website from coming up in a google search.

It currently takes him about one day to produce one Water Winger which he sells for $999.

He knows it would be very easy to have it produced overseas at a lower cost but he is determined his invention will be for the benefit of the community.

"I'm hung up on using local people," he said.

He's buying all his materials locally and using local firms to help with the manufacturing. He'd also like to create jobs in the future.

"I'm trying to make a thing we make here in B.C. to protect Canadian homes."

Coffey said with just one phone call to contact overseas he could have a production start straight away, but it doesn't sit right with him,

"As much as that would be more profitable... if I make it in China nobody around here makes any money except me," Coffey said.

He admits so far any cash he's made from the sprinkler has been sunk straight back into the business.

"There's a lot that stands between me and making any money any time soon."

For now, he'll just keep working 24/7 trying his utmost to keep up with the demand.

For more information and to order a Water Winger go here.

The rooftop sprinkler in action.
The rooftop sprinkler in action.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Bryan Coffey

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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