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Entrepreneur's Spark Helps Extinguish Wildfire Threats-- Alumnus Magazine, Winter 2018

1-25-18 - By Emily Daniels
Alumnus Magazine, Winter 2018
Photo by Russ Houston

Once a wildfire gets out of control it consumes everything in its path—ravaging homes and destroying lifetimes of memories while evacuating homeowners watch, powerless to stop it. But what if there was a way to protect property without putting lives in danger?

Recent College of Business graduate Anna Barker is creating a fire-prevention system to do just that.

Barker said she was inspired to address the issue while watching television footage of a West Coast wildfire as a sophomore. It showed a man standing on his roof, armed with only a garden hose, trying to keep the flames surrounding his house at bay as he was showered with embers. She recalls thinking there had to be a way for people to protect their homes without facing the fire themselves.

“The fire-prevention system would have to be completely self-monitoring and self-activating so you didn’t have to be there for it to work,” Barker said. “It would also need to be environmentally friendly so it wouldn’t kill the grass or be harmful to humans or animals. It had to be affordable, readily available and aesthetically pleasing for people to actually want to put it on their home.”

She took her idea to Mississippi State’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach. With the help of center director Eric Hill, she teamed with fellow students to form BioProvision, LLC—a startup company through which she developed her fire-prevention system called FIRST and conducted a successful scale-model test.

Short for fire inhibiting rapid safety technology, the FIRST system involves a special fire-retardant gel stored in pressurized tanks. Upon sensing a fire danger, the substance is released through a sprinkler system to completely cover a structure’s exterior to protect it from destruction in the event of a wildfire.

In the spring of 2017, Barker accepted a position with fellow MSU entrepreneurs at Vibe, LLC, makers of Glo light cubes, which allows her to continue pursuing her fire prevention venture.

“I think staying in a startup setting really fosters an entrepreneurial mindset,” Barker explained. “I have the opportunity to experience situations and gain skills that will be so valuable for my future with a company that is on a tremendous growth trajectory.”

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