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le Jeudi 3 Décembre 2020 21:28 Autres - Others

Tulmar develops portable emergency shelter

Tulmar Safety Systems Inc. of Hawkesbury is developing a portable inflatable emergency shelter that emergency personnel can set up at almost a moment’s notice during a disaster. Posing in front of the prototype are Tulmar’s Lee Verkuylen, engineering specialist, Benoît Corbeil, director of engineering, and Eric Westelaken, design engineer. — photo Gregg Chamberlain
Tulmar Safety Systems Inc. of Hawkesbury is developing a portable inflatable emergency shelter that emergency personnel can set up at almost a moment’s notice during a disaster. Posing in front of the prototype are Tulmar’s Lee Verkuylen, engineering specialist, Benoît Corbeil, director of engineering, and Eric Westelaken, design engineer.
photo Gregg Chamberlain
One of Hawkesbury’s high-tech sector companies is testing the results of a new project that will be a big help for health and emergency personnel during on-site disaster situations.

Tulmar Safety Systems Inc. has developed a portable inflatable emergency shelter that a single person can carry to an emergency scene and be ready for use within minutes.

“It comes in a bag,” said Patrick J. Tallon, Tulmar president and chief operating officer. “Literally. It’s only a little bigger (uninflated) than a goalie bag.”

The Hawkesbury Fire Department is helping the company beta test the prototype for the shelter, following a recent demonstration at the fire hall. Tallon noted that the shelter could be a real asset for fire departments during major disaster situations where fire fighters need some kind of shelter on-site in a hurry for decontamination or other concerns.

“A fireman’s air (self-contained breathing) tank could inflate it within a couple minutes,” Tallon said, adding that a mini air compressor could also work as well.

Tulmar is well known for its special safety gear for use by emergency personnel and the military. The pandemic prompted the company to resurrect and revise a past attempt at developing a portable emergency shelter. “When the pandemic hit in March,” Tallon said, “we started getting inquiries about portable shelters for hospitals.”

Several years ago the company had tried to develop a portable inflatable emergency shelter and was successful with its original design. The problem then was that the production process itself took at least a month to assemble one shelter. All the separate fabric pieces had to be glued together and the glue required time to set.

Technological improvements since then allowed Tulmar engineers Lee Verkuylen, project leader, and Eric Westelaken and the rest of the team to speed up production through use of hot air-welding the various pieces together. What used to take a month now took just days. The company can now produce shelters fast and in sufficient quantities to meet almost any emergency needs order.

The company used the automotive wind tunnel at the University of Oshawa to test the prototype’s ability to withstand extreme wind conditions and cold temperatures. The prototype was also load-tested and proved capable to sustaining a snow load weight of 250 kilograms (550 pounds).

Verkuylen noted that the pandemic made the portable shelter “a top priority” project. Tulmar officials are quite happy with the results so far. “It’s early days still,” said Tallon, “but we’re very encouraged.”

Once beta testing of the prototype is finished, Tulmar’s portable shelter will be available for use during emergencies as a command post, a shower-and-decontamination hut for personnel having to deal with a hazardous waste incident, as a drive-through COVID-19 testing centre, or whatever other use might be required.

Tulmar has already received an inquiry from an American firm based in Chicago that deals in medical resources and supplies distribution. That company wants to add the Tulmar shelter to its “hurricane season” emergency equipment catalogue.

“Right away, they thought it would be perfect for hurricane season,” said Tallon.