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The DoorBoss in action. Photo courtesy of www.f6s.com/threefirefighters.
The DoorBoss in action. Photo courtesy of www.f6s.com/threefirefighters.

TechGROWTH helps Three Firefighters move their life-saving idea to market

Liz Harper
May 21, 2018

After nearly 20 years as a firefighter, Michael Maher wanted to make firefighting safer and more effective.

One challenge in particular caught his attention: air flow in burning buildings. Research has shown that the amount of air that can enter a burning building is directly proportional to the severity of the fire. Controlling that air flow can be key in giving firefighters enough time to save more lives, preserve structures, and make it safer for the firefighters.

Currently, firefighters control air flow themselves—literally.

“One firefighter is required to hold the door,” said Maher. “Manual door control is not practical due to a lack of manpower. As a career firefighter, I knew something had to be done to free up the hands for the labor.”

After reviewing studies by several entities on air flow in burning buildings, including data by Underwriters Laboratories, Maher created the DoorBoss, a tool that can be set up in three seconds to limit the amount of air entering the structure. He then sought help in developing his idea into a product and bringing it to market.

He contacted TechGROWTH Ohio, which worked with him and his company Three Firefighters to develop an early prototype and field test the DoorBoss in real world fire training situations.  They also provided Maher with connections to strategic partners, helping Three Firefighters determine strategies for launching and scaling the company.

“TechGROWTH was integral in providing funding, but also guidance for my company,” Maher said. “They helped foster me through the research and development phases of the company and ultimately preparing my company for follow-on funding.”

After creating the prototypes for the DoorBoss, Maher reconnected with the director of research at Underwriters Laboratories and shared his idea of how to solve the air flow problem, and the progress that he has made.

 “The representative at Underwriters Laboratories said he couldn’t be more excited and proud that a firefighter is coming up with this solution,” Maher said.

TechGROWTH Ohio and other entrepreneurial partners in southeastern Ohio, including Spark 560 and the LIGHTS program, continue to help support the company as it prepares for product launch in June.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to work with Three Firefighters on this important product that has the potential to save lives across the country and around the world,” Jane New, manager of investments and new venture development, TechGROWTH Ohio, said.