Rick Goddard, CEO of Caylym Technologies International in Fresno, stands next to the Guardian System, which was developed to help fight wildfires. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
As wildfires rage across California, the staff of a small, veteran-owned box manufacturer in Fresno is working to implement a system he’s created that’s already proving its effectiveness in Europe.
Created by the family-owned Caylym Technologies International in conjunction with International Paper Co., which supplies the material, the system has already been successfully deployed in Romania and Greece. It consists of a bulk bin made of cardboard containing 1,000 liters — or 264 gallons — of water. These bins are then loaded onto a cargo plane to drop on the wildfire.
Caylym CEO Rick Goddard, a former Marine Corps Aviation officer, headed the development. He has described the Guardian System as a “16-metric-ton raindrop.” Opening in midair behind the plane, this system then rains down on the fire in heavy, concentrated loads.
In context, the C-130 Hercules aircraft, one of the most common cargo planes in use worldwide, is able to carry 16 Guardian boxes. This means that a single plane can drop 4,224 gallons of water or other firefighting material onto the target.
The idea for the Guardian System emerged in the early 2000s when Goddard was working as a senior manager for Wayerhaeuser Co., where he was responsible for research and development for airdrop boxes used to supply the military.
At the time, Wayerhaeuser was the largest private landowner of timber in North America, and with significant losses in property from wildfires, Goddard and his team began to formulate the Guardian System.
Eventually, Goddard’s division was sold to International Paper, and in 2009, Caylym became its own company after agreeing to work in tandem with the new owner. In 2015, they moved into a 42,000-square-foot production facility on East Home Avenue in Southwest Fresno. They currently have about 30 people on staff.
According to Goddard, the effectiveness of the system was put on full display last year when it was credited with saving a village in Romania that was pinned against a nearby lake. The severity of the fire meant that the villagers were forced to go into the lake for safety.
“They called the Romanian Air Force and then rolled in with the Guardian System with the C-27, and they stopped the fire with two drops,” Goddard said. “It was very successful — they believe it saved the town.”
With the high rate of success, the Guardian System has also received attention in the United States, but it is unclear when it will be adopted by the United States. Successful trials have been conducted by the Air National Guard at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona—a major site for testing military equipment. The system, however, has not been through all the stages needed for full approval. There is also the issue of multiple agencies taking an interest.
“It’s not a question of whether or not it works — it’s how they want to use it,” Goddard said. “You’ve got potential military aircraft and you’ve got the [United States] Forest Service, so there’s a lot of agencies here that want to understand and have their own requirements they need to meet, but we’re committed to working with every one of them.”
“Most are a little bit skeptical when they hear that it is a corrugated product,” said James Tadlock, director of operations. “Most people don’t think of corrugated, and liquid, and that kind of weight going together, but I think we’ve made pretty firm believers out of all those that have tested it and used it.”
There is no modification required for the aircraft, which needs only a loading ramp in the rear of the plane. The box also contains no metal and no hazardous or pyrotechnic materials. For further safety, the system has been designed to be able to be dropped from higher altitudes without losing effectiveness. According to Goddard, the cleanup for the system is simple — simply consisting of picking up the box after the fire is out.
Caylym has also developed the Fontana Portable Water System, a collapsible, 275-gallon container that can be fitted to the back of any pickup truck or Humvee — effectively turning the vehicle into a portable water delivery system to deploy to areas of disaster.
A third system from the company is the BullWorks Rapid Barrier System. Designed to create rapid walls for flood control, they have found further use in acting as road barricades to prevent vehicular terrorist attacks.
“It is a privilege to work with people with whom you’ve formed a bond of trust,” said Kyle Goddard, who works for Caylym with his father and brother, Alex. “And to not only work well with them, but towards a goal that has a greater purpose.”
This story appeared in the Aug. 10 print edition of The Business Journal. Don’t get important, compelling local business news a week or more late. Subscribe today.