Spotlight: Firefighter invents tool to keep doors open on the fireground

This one-handed device helps firefighters keep doors open when things get hot

Company Name: FatIvan
Headquarters: Cleves, Ohio
Signature Product: FatIvan® Door Chock

Courtesy of FatIvan

FatIvan® proves vital for many fields including fire, police, commercial, residential, hotel/motel and all deliveries. The easy one-handed operation opens quickly for insertion and never slips off hinge — guaranteed. Just place FatIvan® on any hinge, top, middle or bottom; then let it go and walk right through. 

Where did your company name originate from?
As a Cincinnati firefighter for over 23 years, I was used to oddball names for tools, such as a Halligan or Hux bars. This got me thinking that most firefighters would remember, and actually appreciate, a fun name like FatIvan®! Our corporate name, NEWCAL, LLC, is a hybrid taken from the two partners: Ron Newcomb and Nick Caliguri.

What was the inspiration behind starting your company? 
After watching a wooden wedge slide on a concrete floor and then getting locked out of the building. I knew there had to be a better way. A buddy of mine was making angle iron with hooks welded on them. This was better than the wooden wedge, until you fell on the ice and landed on one still in your pocket, plus they were too heavy.

It was then I realized the best tool would be one that hung over a hinge, and then folded up when not in use. A trip to Lowe’s provided two heavy duty door hinges that I proceeded to cut up. An old tent stake was then fashioned into a hook. A little JB Weld to hold it together and the first prototype was born!

Why do you believe your products are essential to the fire community?
Whether we're dragging a line in, carrying a person out, or taking a cot through the door, we must have the door held open.

A FatIvan® tool can withstand 500 degrees for up to nine minutes with no degradation. They are 100 percent corrosion resistant and will not rust. FatIvan® tools are tough. Soon we will have Glow in the Dark labels. This will be a huge safety benefit!

What has been the biggest challenge your company has faced?
Getting the word out about our products. It is tough to start the marketing process, no matter how good your product is. Marketing is now, and has always been, our biggest challenge. Also, getting all the patents and trademarks was a nightmare!

What makes your company unique?
We are pretty much the embodiment of what is great about America. We had a problem, found a solution, went in debt up to our eyeballs to create the tooling, then produced a product which has been a homerun. We now have distribution around the world. We feel very blessed to have had such a great response to our efforts.

Our tool is very unique in that it can be used in three different positions. You can hang a FatIvan® over the hinge (door open at 90 degrees), it can be magnetized to the hinge (door open at 45 degrees), or it can be magnetized to the strike plate (door closed but not latched).

What do your customers like best about you and your products?
I think our customers appreciate the fact that our tools work exactly as promised. We invented the better ‘mousetrap’ and customers seem to appreciate a fresh look at an old problem. A FatIvan® inserted over a hinge cannot come out accidentally. You can fold a FatIvan® up when finished using and store it in your pocket, or put in a helmet band for quick access. When you need a door held open, you need a FatIvan®!

What is the most rewarding part of serving the first responder community?
When we are at a convention and someone comes up to tell us how great our tools are. Or when someone will interrupt our sales pitch to tell the potential customer how great our product works. That is a moment of great satisfaction: knowing we invented a tool for the first responder market, and getting the appreciation for a tool designed well.

Do you support any charitable organizations within public safety?
We have supported the Cincinnati Fire Museum and other individual benefits. Our goal has been to support grass roots efforts over the national level organizations.

Is there any fun fact or trivia that you’d like to share with our users about you or your company?
Since our inception how many tools have we sold?
A: 5,000
B: 25,000
C: 100,000
The answer is C.  NEWCAL, LLC has sold FatIvan® tools on 5 continents.
We have also been on QVC, selling to housewives across the country. Can you believe that?

What’s next for your company? Any upcoming new projects or initiatives?
We are about to launch a line of FatIvan® tools with Glow in the Dark Labels. They will be ready for the Christmas season. We are very excited about these and feel they should be a great safety product. 

We are also looking for a company to partner with for a LED light attachment. I can’t think of a better safety item for the line firefighter than a blinking light at the point of exit.

At NEWCAL, LLC we are always looking forward! We will be at FDIC in a big booth with both BlackJack Flashlight holders and FireCam. We are all firefighters who came up with products for firefighters. It is my favorite show of the year, and in fact, is the show where we launched the FatIvan® line of tools in 2011.

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