As British Columbia’s worst fire summer in memory comes to a close, we’ve become used to seeing television footage of firefighting helicopters carrying bright orange bags full of water. Many of us don’t realize that these Bambi Buckets have only been around for 20 years and were developed here in Delta by an SFU grad. aq talks to Bambi Bucket inventor Don Arney, founder and chief executive officer of SEI Industries Ltd., which has been churning out Bambi Buckets as fast as it can all summer.
How did you come up with the concept of the Bambi Bucket?
I was marketing another product when I met with a supplier whose business wasn’t doing very well and I offered to help. Out in the storage area of his plant he had some dusty old lift bags designed for underwater construction and salvage, so I said I’d try to bring in some business for him. It turned out to be a roaring success and I started to realize how efficient these bags were. I then realized that with the addition of a few systems I would have a totally new type of heli-bucket for forest fire fighting. I invented the required new systems in one evening.
Was it an immediate success?
It took 18 months to develop into something that would work; we did a demonstration for Okanagan Helicopters and they decided on a joint venture with us in 1982. In 1983 we went into commercial production. We had the right product at the right time – it was a case of the market pulling in the product, rather than us pushing it into the market.