Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

FireX Protections Startup Spotlight

Fire X Quick Facts:

Fire X Team is: Steven Montgomery (President), Quincy Emmons (Executive Vice-President/Director of Operations), Peter Sells (Chief Fire Operations Advisor), Zackery Hodgen ( Vice-President in charge of Petroleum Industry and Wild Land Fire Operations), Paul and Judi Montgomery (Shareholders)

EST: 2012

Website: firexprotections.com/

From the company: Fire X is an all-natural water additive using a mechanical delivery system that drastically reduces the water required for fire fighting.

Often in the startup space it’s do or die, but on a particularly cold day in February, I talked to a company where it really is life or death – or, in the very least, thousands of dollars worth of property damage. Fire X is trying to revolutionize the fire fighting space, and make it safer for those courageous enough to brave the flames. I sat down with Quincy Emmons, Director of Operations and Co-founder of Fire X to talk about the product, and how an accelerator took them to the next level.

What does Fire X provide?

We are developing an all-natural water additive that dramatically reduces the water required for fire fighting. We’re currently in the research and development phase, and we’ve developed our alpha formula, and working on our beta formula. We’ve also made the mechanical system to deliver the product on-demand (the first in the world).

So ultimately, who buys the product?

This will be for fire fighting, fire prevention, and fire protection – so we’re mostly targeting the fire services.

And how did Fire X get its start?

Well there was a group of us, three friends who started in 2012, and we were thinking of building a smarter sprinkler system. So we were throwing around different ideas for this system and we decided that we wanted to put a water additive in that would make the water more efficient.

That’s when we came across gel technologies in the US, and we were watching some videos, and it was just awe-inspiring. It was just amazing how fast the fires got knocked down, and how minimal water was used in the process. It was a lot quicker and safer for the fire fighter too. With two of us being firefighters ourselves, that was important to us.

So we contacted a company and got some samples to play with. After a few months of playing with it, we found that a big problem was that you had to mix it prior to the event, as it could take 8-10 minutes for the gel to set. So we got working, and made an ugly unit called “Frankenstein”, which just used absolute brute force to mix the product, and got that time down to under a minute.

We showed a video of it in action to the gel company, and two weeks later they flew up to see how we did it. They were completely amazed. That validated the idea, so we took that monstrosity of a mixer to a company in Toronto, and they got it scaled down to a small unit that could be placed on a fire truck that mixes everything on demand.

We then had some challenges with the gel company, so we went to GreenCentre Canada in Kingston and developed our own product. We took a different approach than other gels on the market, and we knew going in that we wanted it to be all-natural (which hasn’t been easy to maintain).

Eventually you made your way to GrindspaceXL in Kingston, what made you guys decide to apply?

We were dealing with Launch Lab and Industry Partnerships through Queen’s University, who are highly valued by us. They both recommended that we go for this and pitch, so we did it. I think we had also hit a wall at that point. We were having some issues with the formula, and it was just a standstill kind of a spot, so that kinda convinced us as well.

I’m really glad we did it though because it was really successful. I learned a lot going through it, and I’ve really spread that to the team – so much so, that one of my partners asked if we could do it again and send someone else.

What do you think it was that got you kicked out of that lull?

The material and resources that it provided. None of us had any business experience at that level, so the mentorship was incredibly helpful. We were going through grant applications at the time, and I don’t think we would have been as successful without their help. The networking and contacts we gained through the program as well were also fantastic.

What can someone ultimately expect when they enroll in a program like this?

They’re going to give you the tools, and allow you to focus – that’s what it really did for us. You’ll get what you need done, and get the business off on the right foot.

It’s pretty amazing what Quincy and team have come up with, and how often do we get to say our product helps save lives? Quincy began to tell me what’s next for Fire X – saying their next step is their launch by the end of the year, and then splitting off the gel into its own company. Add in the fact that they’re also doing some consulting for fire fighting, and it’s clear that there is a great deal more to come for this fledgling company built by a couple of small-town boys.

Number one thing to never underestimate:

“Never underestimate your own value. If you have a great idea, and people are recognizing that, then you’re worth something – don’t just take the first offer to come along.“

- Quincy Emmons, Fire X Director of Operations

Invest Ottawa’s Startup Spotlight is a regular look at some of the amazing startups flourishing in Ottawa. Know a company we should cover? Email Jason at jconnell@investottawa.ca.