Jim Moseley, the founder and CEO of Sun FireDefense, has taken technology developed for the NASA Space Shuttle and expanded it to be used to protect homes from being destroyed by fire.
A Los Angeles-area resident, Moseley’s fire-protection applications earned him the 2014 Patrick Soon-Shiong Los Angeles Business Journal’s Innovator of the Year award.
And now, Sun FireDefense is expanding to offer the fire-protection services, namely a clear spray and window coverings, to the North County area of San Diego.
“We are trying to get it out to as many homes as we can,” Moseley said. “Between (the window covering) and the spray, the house is very safe. In the case of burning embers — which represents about 50 percent of the destruction — we’ve knocked out that 50 percent.
“Usually when it gets to that point, people are already evacuated. But people have irreplaceable art, family heirlooms, things like that. We want to get it known to as many people as possible, so that they can get this kind of protection.”
Moseley’s memorable journey to developing his fire-protection services began at an aerospace company in Valencia, where a good friend of his was the CFO. The company had received some tiles off of the NASA Space Shuttle, as well as some fire blankets with similar technology. Moseley watched a demonstration where the tiles, which go for $1,500 per square foot, were hit with a 5,000-degree blow torch and then able to be touched with bare hands 10 seconds later. When he saw that the blankets could do basically the same thing for just $5 per square foot, Moseley was really intrigued.
After gaining the licensing rights for the blankets, Moseley began using them to protect homes by dividing rooms like garages, with higher likelihoods of fires, from the rest of the house.
After getting proficient at that, Moseley started meeting with architects for huge commercial buildings, including those rebuilding the new World Trade Center, to talk about utilizing the technology to wrap structural beams.
A friend even connected him with William Jimeno, a Port Authority Police Officer who was one of those trapped for 13 hours in the collapsed South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, before being freed. Jimeno told Moseley that had these fire blankets been wrapped around the beams in the World Trade Center, it would have bought an extra hour before it collapsed and they probably could have gotten everyone out.
“That was the game-changer,” Moseley said.
Moseley continued to develop different uses for the blanket technology and eventually — following the deaths of 19 firefighters in Yarnell, Arizona in June 2013 — introduced it to the U.S. Forest Service to use while fighting fires.
As he tried to design fire shelters using the fire blanket technology, Moseley began looking for a spray that he could use to protect the foil on the outer part of shelter.
“I have some engineering background and some chemical background from the Navy and … started to learn a lot very quickly,” Moseley said. “I also have a pretty good team of smart people (that helped me). It was just trial by error, we went through probably 30 or 40 resins, different formulas and quantities, a lot of failure along the way. And then bingo.”
The spray can be applied easily and lasts five-seven years.
“We can put it over or under the paint or we can mix it in with stains and varnishes,” Moseley explained. “It’s nontoxic, there’s zero smoke or fumes. A local contractor or painter can put it on. For about three bucks a square foot, we can protect your home.”
Moseley added that the only alternative, using gel or foam, must be put on right before the fire because it lasts just 48 hours. He says his product lasts for years at only double the cost.
With more information at www.sunfiredefense.com, the company is available to cover Cardiff, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach, La Jolla, Carmel Valley and more. It also provides coverage as far north as Truckee, Calif., as well as Colorado and Utah.
Moseley has a Ph.D. in political science and a master’s degre in music. He has worked as a performer and executive producer on a Grammy-nominated album with Roger Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra.
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