Shark Tank Fire Hose a Big Miss With Safety Experts

Pool Magazine

The FireFighter1 swimming pool fire hose was featured on the popular television show Shark Tank, where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of investors in the hopes of landing a deal. The FireFighter1 swimming pool fire hose was a hit on the show and won over the Sharks, resulting in a profitable investment. However, whether or not the product will be popular with consumers remains to be seen.

The FireFighter1 system is ostensibly a fire hose designed for swimming pools. The average residential swimming pool holds approximately 25,000 gallons of water, and the FireFighter1 claims to be capable of deploying more than a gallon of water per second in a controlled spray that can reach up to 40 feet.

The product claims to enable homeowners to quickly extinguish small fires that may occur near the pool. The kit includes a hose in 50 and 100-foot lengths, as well as a 3-way diverter.

The high-pressure nozzle is one of the main selling points for the FireFighter1 System. According to the manufacturers, the nozzle can generate a powerful stream of water capable of effectively extinguishing small fires. The hose also has an integrated shut-off val ve that allows users to easily control the flow of water.
Firefighter1 Swimming Pool Fire Hose SystemPhoto byPool Magazine

The FireFighter1 swimming pool fire hose's compact size is another key selling point. The hose can be easily stored in a pool shed or other small space, allowing it to be easily accessible in the event of a fire.

On the surface, the system appears to be a no-brainer for pool owners who live in wildfire-prone areas. So, why are pool industry professionals saying they're ready to pass on this product?

Experts advise against using your swimming pool to extinguish a wildfire.

Fire departments frequently use swimming pools and ponds. Typically, helicopters are used to use water to fight wildfires. One might argue that a product like FireFighter1 does not make sense for consumers to have in their homes.

Clearly, the product is aimed at homeowners who live in rural areas where there are fewer resources available to respond to house fires and potential wildfires. This was the premise of Shark Tank's value proposition. However, both pool industry professionals and fire safety experts are concerned that the equipment being pitched to the public is insufficient in the face of real-world wildfires.
Firefighters using water from a swimming pool.Photo byPool Magazine

“I think it will sell. People will buy into it, especially in drought-stricken areas prone to fires. I do think it will work to a certain point if installed correctly – not as in the demo. It needs to be on the discharge of the pump. I don’t think most homeowners will know to change the suction to draw from the main drain versus the skimmer and they will run out of water. I do think it will provide a false sense of security and keep people from evacuating as early as they should. All in all, I’m not a fan.” – CPO Instructor & Best-Selling Author, Rudy Stankowitz.

“There’s not enough water volume. We have a detail/spec for a fire department standpipe off of a dedicated pool main drain for firefighting. It’s a 6” main line to a 4” vertical pipe for a wharf hydrant. It’s a detail that we’ve had approved by the CDF, LA, Santa Barbara & Monterey County Fire Marshals,” Paolo Benedetti – Swimming Pool Expert Witness.

James Rappuhn, a wildfire prevention and mitigation expert, believes that this product may be hazardous in the long run.“I do not feel this is a good solution for homeowners," said Rappuhn, "it creates a false sense of security (“I don’t need to perform necessary home hardening or clearance because I have this pool pump system”). Additionally, wildfires move faster than people know. They should be evacuating to safety not staying home and fighting a fire with inferior equipment. To me, this is a dangerous product. I base this on 20 years of wildfire experience.”

There are numerous social media threads debating whether or not this is a viable product for consumers. According to pool professionals and fire safety experts we spoke with, consumers may have difficulty engaging the system in an emergency, and the flow rate may not be adequate for fighting a real wildfire.
Bianca Wittenberg won over the sharks but has yet to win over pool and fire safety experts.Photo byPool Magazine

Bianca Wittenberg is the founder and current CEO and Lead Product Developer of FireFighter1. She does not appear to have much pool or fire safety experience on the surface. She is the owner of Own It Real Estate and works as an operations manager and broker at IBMC Lending. She previously ran a synthetic lawn and landscaping company before launching FireFighter1.

According to the experts we spoke with, more involvement from independent sources, both in the pool industry and in fire safety, is needed to determine whether or not this product is a safer alternative to simply evacuating.

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