Australia is always suffering from uncontrollable fires during the summer season. Just five years ago, on a day remembered as Black Saturday, 173 people lost their lives in a Victoria fire.
Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne has teamed up with Frankston Concrete Products that belongs to Greek-Australian businessman Peter Zigouras. Using government grants, university researchers were able to build and test an above the ground bushfire shelter that will save many lives during the summer months.
Before building the prototype, the research team had to investigate every possible scenario. They looked into North America’s bunkers but Victoria’s rocky terrain did not allow them to build such a shelter. In the end, they settled for an above the ground concrete shelter that can host up to 5 people, while it can withstand extremely high temperatures.
It consists of an outer and an inner chamber with double walls. In case of a fire, people will move to the inner chamber, close the vents and wait out the fire. The inner chamber has a small window that allows them to check the situation outside.
Zigouras said the shelter took about one month to build and due to its compact size, could fit on a standard-size truck. The prototype cost around 1 million dollars, however the shelter will be available in the market at the more affordable price of 23,000 dollars.