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Firm's tanks are in the bag

Feb 17 2010

Saltspring Island's inventor's creation finding markets all over the world

GRANIA LITWIN
Times Colonist

When Saltspring Islander Don Arney awoke this week and glanced at the Vancouver Sun, he was amazed to see a photo of Prime Minister Stephen harper in Haiti, taking a big gulp of water from a huge, transportable reservoir.

 

"That's my bladder," thought Arney with a jolt of happiness.

"It was pretty cool to turn on the computer and see this online."

His company, SEI Industries, makes a range of massive containers but doesn't often see them featured in full-colour newspaper shots with world leaders taking a sip.

The "bladders" hold everything from chemicals to high pressure refuelling systems, and many custom versions are ordered by the Department of National Defence. 

"We're the only company in Canada whose products meet th new environmental regulations for fuel storage published a couple of weeks ago, and we've been doing that for 20 years," he said.

"We dramatically exceed U.S. military specs."

The Delta-made bladders come in three fabrics, depending on their destination. The various models are called the Arctic King, Jungle King and Desert King.

Arney likes fun names. It started in 1981 when he invented the Bambi Bucket, a firefighting tool, used by helicopters in more than 100 countries to carry water.

It has helped make his company the largest aerial firefighting equipment maker on the planet, and his giant reservoirs are equally popular.

They're used by the military, in oil exploration, for fighting fires, and in relief efforts by NATO and the Red Cross.

"There are thousands in the field and that feels really really good," said Arney.

"Saving people's lives is really satisfying. In 1984 I invented a product called the Full Lotus - a kind of inflatable float for fixed wing aircraft. We had 12 documented saves before I sold the company eight years ago."

Harper was in Haiti this week touring Canada's disaster relief efforts, including a water purification centre.

Original published in Times Colonist, Victoria, B.C.

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Feb 17 2010