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People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- July 26, 1999
- Vol. 52
- No. 3
Firefighter John Bartlett Picked Up a Dirty Diaper and Found a New Way to Swaddle Misbehaving Flames
Call it a doggone miracle, call it a revolution in fire-fighting technology. But be sure to call it the best invention ever to come from a dirty diaper. Because if Bartlett hadn't picked up the one surviving remnant of a Dumpster fire in 1993, he would never have figured out that the superabsorbent material used in diapers also has a phenomenal ability to repel heat. Bartlett turned the substance into a sprayable goo, which Bill Kramer, a former fire chief who teaches fire science at the University of Cincinnati, calls "a quantum leap in fire fighting."
Now Bartlett, 45, and his partner Bruce Hill, 42, are marketing the product they call Barricade to homeowners and fire departments alike. The duo have yet to make money, but the Los Angeles Fire Department and Indianapolis International Airport are using it, and with the Federal Aviation Administration wanting to study its uses on airplanes, the inventors hope their fire-safe formula leads to smokin' profits. After all, says Bartlett, the married father of one son, "we developed it from the bottom up."
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