Smart Fire Detector

Smart fire detector alerts neighbours

Lumkani has developed an early-warning system to reduce the damage and destruction caused by the spread of fires in urban informal settlements 

The Aqua Blue Smart Fire detector is the product of a start-up company called Lumkani. The device was designed specifically with the slums of South Africa in mind. Fire is a particularly prudent fear in such areas because of the highly flammable materials used to build shacks and the proximity of each home, leading to a high density of people living in each neighbourhood. The key to this devices success is early detection, and notifying as many people as possible as early as possible to the danger.

The device’s use is two-fold. Firstly, it detects sharp raises in temperature as opposed to typical fire detectors which instead detect just the smoke. These smoke detectors are not suitable for households in the slums who regularly cook with open fire and other smoke- creating methods. This extremely decreases the risk of false alarms, however if the device is set off by anything that is under control, the owner has 20 seconds to manually disable the device before it alerts the neighbourhood.

The second use of the fire detector is that, if the alarm is triggered, a centralised “smart device” within the detectors use radio frequency to alert every other Aqua Blue Fire Detector in a 60 metre radius of the danger. The same technology is used to text surrounding neighbours and firemen the precise GPS location of the fire so that aid can arrive as soon as possible.

Despite the highly technological design of the devise, it is in fact rather simple to use and understand. Like most fire detectors there is a flashing light and single button to test the effectiveness of the device but, unlike regular detectors, the Aqua Blue emits two distinctive tones. One continuous beep signifies that a fire has broken out in the home it is installed in while a series of short beeps lets the owner know that there is a fire in a nearby home. The devices have been distributed to 3500 homes since 2014 with great results, leading to Lumkani winning the GIST ‘best start-up’ award.

For more information on Lumkani visit

Written by Naomi Smith