Student’s invention helps to keep fire hydrants clear of vehicles

SHS sophomore Kyle Young recently competed in the 2018 Invention Convention competition where he won several awards for his fire hydrant alert system. –Aaron Berkowitz photo

A Shelton High sophomore is hoping that the invention he created for a school based competition, will help to assure people’s safety in times where there’s a fire.

Sophomore inventor Kyle Young takes the creation process of his inventions as an opportunity to address issues that we as people face everyday.

At the beginning of the school year, Young said he witnessed a fire truck that was dispatched to Shelton High experience a delay in being able to connect to a water source at the school because approximately 20 vehicles obstructing its path to the nearest fire hydrant.

“I’m thinking to myself, ‘what if this was a real emergency blocking the fire hydrant even briefly could have negative effects,’” said Young.

That’s where the idea for the fire hydrant alert system was born.


From there, Young said he began to think of ways he could use technology to address these safety issues often caused by unaware operators of motor vehicles. After much thought, Young decided to create a waterproof safety device that would attach to city fire hydrants and alert emergency services when there is an obstruction in front of a hydrant.

“Basically it’s a device that attaches to city hydrants has a couple of functions,” said Young. “The first function is to monitor the area in front of it. In case a car or any other obstruction blocks the hydrant, a gps signal will cause the hydrant to begin lighting up in order to notify the driver of them blocking the hydrant.”

Young explained that the second feature is that if the operator of the vehicle doesn’t move their car, gps coordinates will be sent to the local fire department in order to make them aware of what’s in front of the hydrant.

The blinking lights on the hydrant would also serve firefighters at night as they’re searching for potential hydrants to use as a source of water, said Young.

The first thing Young was tasked with doing while attempting to create a prototype of his invention was finding a sensor that could detect cars or an obstruction in front of the hydrant. Young said thankfully he already had worked with technology that he thought could be put to use here.

In last year’s Invention Convention Young created the “Cycling Assisted Brake” which relies on what’s called an “Ultrasonic distance sensor.” The Cycling Assisted Brake is an add-on that Kyle invented to attach onto his Schwinn mountain bike in order to detect sudden obstructions within a 10-foot distance, as long as his bike is traveling at a speed of 10 miles per hour.

“It works like a bat’s sonar,” said Young. “It sends out a signal and depending on what bounces back will help to determine what is blocking or in the way. If a car is in front of the hydrant, the signal bouncing off of the vehicle will tell fire services.”

After deciding to use this technology, he began his trial and error process of how to properly transmit the signal to another device or a phone. According to Young, his most recent and functioning prototype was his 15th attempt at getting it to work how he designed it to.

For his hard work, Young was presented with several awards including : first place for sophomores and overall at the Shelton High School Science fair, the Recognized Inventor award and the fire marshal safety award from the Connecticut Fire Marshal Association, as well as a medal from the Connecticut Science and Engineering fair. Young also won awards while at University of Bridgeport for their research day celebration.

Currently Young said he’s looking into patenting his invention and has begun brainstorming what he will create next.

“Right now I want to see what I can do with this invention and then move on to creating the next one,” said Young.

The rising junior said his experience creating his own inventions has helped him develop advice for other young inventors.

This is Kyle’s third year in a row competing at the national level of the state’s Invention Convention. 2018 was also the first year Connecticut participated in the Invention Convention at the high school level.

“Keep trying, usually the first try never works out so don’t get discouraged,” said Young

Kyle’s father Brian Young said he’s extremely proud of his son, he admires his work ethic and his approach to problem solving.

“Everyday I’m astonished at what he thinks about, his problem solving skills, and his can-do attitude,” said Young while smiling. “When he’s inventing and something doesn’t work, he doesn’t get upset because he understands that this is a process. In life, whatever he does he really puts 100% into it.”

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