Firefighters ascend into homes of millions of cable TV viewers |

Firefighters ascend into homes of millions of cable TV viewers

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Carson City Fire Department Training Captain Jim Quilici, 45, scales the side of the training tower Wednesday with the help of a PowerQuick personal lifting system. The Discovery Channel filmed the exercise.

A Carson City company that makes climbing devices will be featured on a Discovery Channel show about new technology early next year.

Several Carson City firefighters ascended the five-story fire training tower at the Carson City Airport on Wednesday afternoon using the PowerQuick Personal Lifting Device. One of those firefighters was Training Captain Jim Quilici. He’s not only testing out a product. He’s also making his cable television debut.

Wearing rescue gear, a climbing harness and a red hard hat, Quilici squeezed the “trigger” of the PowerQuick lifter and was motored up the inch-and-a-1/2-thick rope anchored to the top of the tower.

This was called a horizontal lift because the rope was tied to the back of a fire engine parked about 100 hundred feet from the tower.

The Discovery Channel camera crew, which is based out of Australia, clustered at the bottom, watching the ascension. Every so often the show producer would give a direction in his heavy “down-under” accent.

As Quilici ascended at an angle, his shadow cast over the front of the tower. He reached the top with no effort. The aluminum and plastic device sounded like an electric saw. The PowerQuick is made by Quoin International Inc. in a 8,000-square-foot office near the airport.

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“It seems slower, but it has more torque,” Quilici yelled down. He had recently completed a vertical ascension with a lighter, 300-pound PowerQuick lifter. The 500-pound machine, which retails for $8,600, is made to carry two people, which is why the fire department is considering it for search and rescue.

The show, called “Beyond Tomorrow,” will air in Australia in February. Producer Ross Gallen said the Discovery Channel will run it soon afterward in America. In Australia the show has 1.5 million viewers.

“We cover new technology on the show, so it could be a new medical device or a new car design,” he said.

The crew has filmed around the world for seven weeks straight. The last thing they filmed was a luxury $2 million bus made in Springfield, Ore. Next they’re heading to Las Vegas to film a self-playing violin.

Hayden Turner, the show’s host, said featuring a product such as the PowerQuick device is important because it could save someone’s life.

“People really want to know what it feels like,” he said about the device. Turner plans to do an ascension himself so that he can explain it to the audience. “The technology can be conveyed with graphics.”

Quilici’s experience:

“It’s awesome. There’s no work whatsoever.”

Fire department Battalion Chief Robert Charles said the department could use it for rescue in confined spaces or on high-rise buildings. There will be several more months of testing before a PowerQuick could end up in the back of a fire truck.

Wednesday’s seven-hour training shoot included the first trial run with a “victim” strapped to the lifting device. The PowerQuick made it up about half-way, but then they had some problem with the line riggings.

PowerQuick inventor Mike Jacobson, who played the victim, said, for the first time, it wasn’t bad. Filming will continue today.

Cathy Jacobson, Quoin vice president, said her company got the attention because of an award it won from a federal defense research program this year.

“We originally developed it for special forces, but since then we’ve discovered a huge commercial market for it,” she said. “Such as for telecommunications, search and rescue, and construction.”

But Jacobson isn’t stopping there – she sees the PowerQuick’s future also in the movie industry.

— Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.