Flood gate inventor hailed for his life-saving idea

The innovative flood gates designed and built by David Bagnall.
The innovative flood gates designed and built by David Bagnall. Contributed

A MIRIAM Vale man could be hailed a hero and potentially save lives with his invention of flood gate safety barriers.

David Bagnall built the first prototypes of his floating flood gate safety barriers from bits and pieces he had lying around on his property and now he has the backing of the council, and at least one manufacturer interested.

The gates are activated when floodwater rises at creek crossings and causeways, locking into place and closing vehicle access, while at the same time activating lights and signs to warn motorists and a radio transmitter to alert emergency services and council officers.

"I used rubbish bins for the floats and just stuff I had in the shed and around the place," Mr Bagnall said.

"There's three types of devices - ones that actually close the road and ones that warn people in cars that there is water on the road.

"Often the problem is people don't know there is water over the road or how deep it is and they hit it at high speed - then your brakes and everything is gone.

"There were three vehicles washed off at House Creek and three more at Colosseum Creek just during this latest flood."

Mr Bagnall said he was grateful for the interest and backing shown by the Gladstone Regional Council and he could not have got this far without the help of Mayor Gail Sellers and director of engineering services Paul Keech.

My wife and I were watching cars trapped in floods and getting washed off roads on the news and I said someone should come up with something to stop that happening

The council has kicked in $40,000 to get prototypes of the flood gate safety barriers installed and trialled for 12 months at locations yet to be determined.

Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers said the safety barriers would eliminate the need for workers to manually place warning signs, and reduce risks for both them and motorists.

"In the event of any future major flood occurrences, if installation of the barriers saves one life across our region, its value will truly have been proven," Cr Sellers said.


Ordinary bloke comes up with lifesaving idea

HE'S just an ordinary bloke and doesn't really consider himself an inventor, let alone a hero, but Dave Bagnall may just have created a simple yet effective lifesaving device for flooded roads.

Dave lives just outside Miriam Vale in the southern parts of the Gladstone region on a property that sometimes gets cut off by floodwater.

"My wife and I were watching cars trapped in floods and getting washed off roads on the news and I said someone should come up with something to stop that happening,'' Dave said.

"I just started thinking about it and started to play around with a few ideas.

"I built the first one just out of stuff I had lying around - rubbish bins, anything really.''

Dave operates an excavator and drives a truck for a local business, and is clearing drains clogged and destroyed by recent floods.

"If they're there, they will save lives,'' he said. 

INVENTOR: David Bagnall

"Council don't have to worry about any crossing they're on, as soon as that water goes over the road the gates will automatically close when they're at an unsafe level.

"They'll (motorists) see that long before they see the water and they'll have a chance to slow down without hitting the water.''

Gladstone Regional Council Mayor Gail Sellers said it was great to see a local coming up with potentially a solution to a major problem, and the council was happy to back the idea with $40,000 of initial funding to install prototypes.

"It's one of those wonderful stories of a small operator who saw a need and then filled the need by inventing his own floodgates," she said.

"David is a truck driver and he saw the dangerous situation on those gravel roads and on bitumen roads and felt that he needed to be able to help.

"The device is designed to stop vehicles and eliminate the risk associated with unsafe crossings by deterring the public from attempting to cross flooded roadways."

How the gates work:

  • The solar-powered flood gate safety barriers are activated when floodwater rises.
  • The gates rise, float across to block the road and lock into place.
  • At the same time stop signs and warnings drop into place and lights are activated.
  • And a radio transmitter alerts Emergency Services and council officers.
  • Other devices warn motorists of water on the roads to eliminate high-speed crashes in floodwater.