Why problem solving with product design is saving lives and building a thriving business.


When I was a college student off in Rhode Island, my parents bought a house and lived in Rochester, New York. Coming from California, and warmer weather, my dad often had fires burning in both of the double fireplaces in their home, that backed up to one another. Of course these were all cleared and up to code for the time, but that didn’t stop a fire from breaking out. There was the tiniest of cracks on the wall of the fireplace, and an ember easily traveled up through that crack, starting a fire in the walls. It wasn’t until smoke started billowing out of the pocket lights that my dad realized something was wrong and got everyone out of the house. We lost most of the first floor, and it forever changed the way I think about fire.

The Big Wall of Flames

Living in California now, we are in a pretty constant cyclical conversation about the loss from fires, and as those conversations grow, our knowledge about why there is so much loss is changing. The biggest perception shift has been about the real danger, and it isn’t the big wall of flames we all imagine when we think of home fires. Of the $50 billion in losses in California, last year alone, 90% of that loss was caused by embers.

Let’s Talk About A Few Other Numbers

  • 14 of the 20 most destructive fires in California have occurred since 2007

  • $1B spent by California to fight 2018 fires.

  • In 2018, there were 58,083 wildfires nationwide, compared to 71,499 wildfires in 2017

  • Flying embers can destroy homes up to a mile from a wildfire.

What these numbers are showing us, is that due to a higher concentration of people in areas that may have been less populated in the past, the damage is growing; both in lives lost and in financial devastation.

Product Design As Prevention

Devan LeBlanc and Adam Iveson, owners of Ember Defense- Wildfire Solutions, have pooled their entrepreneurial skill sets to tackle this massive prevention problem, and their products are opening the door for market re-education. Based out of Reno, Nevada, the Ember defense duo have been traveling to fire zones and letting people know that having a solid defensible space is not enough to protect against the real threat- embers that can travel up to one mile and easily be sucked into any small space.

Smart Solutions for Everyone

Their solutions are smart, and well-designed; and sit at multiple different price entry points, which is a business strategy everyone should adopt. The lower cost entry point Ember Defense offers, vulcan vents, are not a product they invented or designed- they are simply distributors and installers. The duo realized, pretty early in their learning process, they didn’t need to reinvent every wheel right at the start, so they did their research and found the best product that could deliver what they wanted to offer. From there, they designed a sprinkler system- a higher cost point of entry, which allows them to offer multifaceted solutions to their clients.

Prevention Over Picking Up the Pieces

With all of the new data we now have access to, it’s becoming much easier to identify the specific problem areas and focus our efforts on real-life solutions that are preventative. This type of entrepreneurship, whether we’re talking about fire loss prevention or home design solutions, is the type of business that thrives.

Looking Forward to the Future

As fireproof prevention requirements change, we will see this business model change as well, opening up plenty of new opportunity for defense systems like Ember Defense to start the conversations much earlier, in more spaces, with more price entry points. I’ll leave you with this: if you’re in a fire zone, you need to have your home evaluated. Preventative action is the best option you have at defending your home, your family, your livelihood, and your life.


Read the original INC article published on May 23, 2019.

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