As humans, we need some amount of heat to survive. Shelter and clothing provide insulation from the elements, though most of us also rely on other sources — like fireplaces or heaters — to add extra warmth when outside temperatures drop. It’s no wonder that the U.S. Department of Energy reports 45% of the average energy bill goes towards heating. But in some cases, too much heat can be disastrous. When space heaters tip over or when a stove is unattended, a building can go up in flames — particularly if it’s made of highly combustible materials. And although it’s standard to install smoke detectors or use conventional fire extinguishers to alert occupants and extinguish a blaze, Samsung has developed a fire safety solution that’s a lot subtler. In fact, it will work in perfectly with your existing home decor.
The Firevase might seem like something out of an action movie or a video game, but it’s got some major real life power behind it. Cheil Worldwide, a Samsung subsidiary based in South Korea, launched a campaign for the product back in September as a potential solution to combat the fire hazards that local residents face.
In U.S. commercial buildings, such as warehouses, racking systems require special provisions above 12 feet in storage height in order to meet fire safety regulations. But in private residential spaces abroad, safeguards aren’t always put into place. Many South Korean living spaces, especially the low-budget communal spaces called goshiwons, have unique fire hazards that can result in disaster. When a Seoul goshiwon caught fire last year, seven people perished in the flames; modern safety standards aren’t applied retroactively to older structures, so the goshiwon didn’t even have a sprinkler system. Even facilities known for health and safety aren’t immune from preventable tragedy, as 37 people died in a fire at a small South Korean hospital. Like the goshiwon, the hospital had no sprinkler system. And although it’s actually mandatory for South Korean residents to have a fire extinguisher, research shows that anywhere from 40% to 58% of homes don’t own one. A survey found that even among citizens who did own fire extinguishers, only 24% of respondents actually knew how to use them. Subsequently, the country experiences thousands of fires every year, many of which could likely be contained.
This data prompted Cheil to develop a product to help make residents safer. The Firevase might look like a standard vessel for fresh flowers, but it does more than hold beautiful arrangements. While the inner chamber functions just as a normal vase would, the outer chamber is filled with potassium carbonate (an oxygen suppressant). The idea is that if a fire breaks out in your home, you can throw the Firevase at the blaze — in grenade-like glory — and extinguish the flames.
Cheil produced 100,000 Firevases as part of a publicity campaign to promote widespread use of extinguishers in South Korean homes, an effort which resulted in the 8% increase of extinguisher-equipped households throughout the country. Now, the company is planning to expand the campaign and produce an additional 200,000 Firevases for members of the Chaebol insurance program.
Of course, the irony of Samsung producing devices to put out fires isn’t lost on tech-savvy consumers. It wasn’t that long ago when Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phones were recalled due to exploding batteries and subsequent fires. But it’s certainly refreshing to see Samsung taking up a cause that will improve fire safety, rather than put consumers at risk.
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