Entrepreneurs

This invention is smaller than a fire-hose and could help save firefighters' lives

When firefighters are battling flames on a roof, sometimes their entire bodyweight rests on the head of an axe. And when things go wrong, accidents can be deadly.

That's part of what pushed 47-year-old Boston firefighter Rob Duffy to create the Quick Step Anchor, a mobile safety platform for firefighters operating on steep roofs, which he demonstrates in the above video.

"About 14 years ago, a friend of mine fell off a roof," Duffy told investors on the most recent episode of CNBC's reality pitch show "West Texas Investors Club." "We were at a fire, and he sustained some pretty serious injuries. He was in the hospital for a while."

47-year-old firefighter Rob Duffy created the Quick Step Anchor that is intended to secure users to a steep roof and provide support for vertical ventilation operations while firefighting.
Source: CNBC
47-year-old firefighter Rob Duffy created the Quick Step Anchor that is intended to secure users to a steep roof and provide support for vertical ventilation operations while firefighting.

Duffy came on the show to pitch his product to investors Butch Gilliam and Rooster McConaughey. He was seeking an investment of $250,000 for a 25% stake in his company, and while he didn't walk away with quite that much, he did secure a deal of $50,000 for 15%.

He explained that firefighters carry the device with a safety lanyard, and after cutting into the roof with a chainsaw, they insert the board for a secure footing. The lanyard acts as a carrying strap that secures firefighters to the device, in case of a fall.

"Typically, we're not going up there in ideal conditions," Duffy said. "We're going up there at 2 o'clock in the morning after an ice storm, and you know, there's a raging fire underneath you."

"There had to be a better way to get some footing on a roof," he said.

Boston firefighter Robert Duffy created the Quick Step Anchor, a rooftop firefighting tool, after a fellow-firefighter was injured in the line of duty.
Source: CNBC
Boston firefighter Robert Duffy created the Quick Step Anchor, a rooftop firefighting tool, after a fellow-firefighter was injured in the line of duty.

The idea for the invention came to Duffy one night six years ago, while he was lying in bed. Since then, he's sold about 125 units for $1,100 each.

Still, the business hasn't taken off, and he came on the show hoping an investment would help move it forward. While the investors saw promise in the technology, they scoffed at the ask.

"Rob don't need no quarter million dollars to get this thing off the ground," McConaughey said.

He and Gilliam did see some easy fixes Duffy could make to help his company expand. They recommended two strategies: First, lower the price. Second, create a team of knowledgeable salespeople that would work on commission.

Firefighter and entrepreneur Rob Duffy accepts an investment offer of $50,000 for 15% of his company Quick Step Anchor from West Texas Investors Club hosts Rooster McConaughey and Butch Gilliam.
Source: CNBC
Firefighter and entrepreneur Rob Duffy accepts an investment offer of $50,000 for 15% of his company Quick Step Anchor from West Texas Investors Club hosts Rooster McConaughey and Butch Gilliam.

Duffy agreed to the deal and hopes he can reach some of the nearly 165,000 fire trucks in the U.S.

"I'm very happy to be in business with Butch and Rooster," Duffy said. "It's a bad feeling when you have the idea and you can't progress forward because of money. So to run into guys like this, that can allow you to achieve the goals that'll help and save lives, it's unbelievable."

CNBC's "West Texas Investors Club" airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. EDT.