Cheap fire siren a first for shacks

2015-05-05 07:16
Lumkani, a company producing early warning fire detectors, has launched a crowd-funding campaign to fund 3000 devices. 


Lumkani, a company producing early warning fire detectors, has launched a crowd-funding campaign to fund 3000 devices. PHOTO: supplied

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You can be part of installing 3000 fire detection devices in informal homes across the country.

This as Lumkani, a technology start-up that has designed and deployed fire detection devices in informal settlement communities, launches a crowd-funding campaign this month.

The social enterprise firm has created a fire detection device aimed at shack dwellers which detects an increase in heat instead of smoke.

Lumkani wants to lessen the loss of life and property caused by dangerous fires in informal settlements, says financial director David Gluckman.

“We wish to increase the safety and security of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of people across the globe who live at risk of slum fires,” he says.

The product was invented after a devastating fire in Khayelitsha on New Year’s Day in 2013.

The blaze, which displaced thousands of people, was a catalyst for research and development, Gluckman says.

“This early warning detection system has its roots in an engineering Honours thesis of Francois Petousis at UCT.

“The tragic event brought together a multidisciplinary team that would bring theory into reality to help mitigate the loss of life and property associated with the rampant spread of shack fires,” he says.

The device costs R120 and the battery will last between one and two years.

Lumkani uses heat detection technology which is proven to be the most effective at sensing fires in already smoky environments, Gluckman explains.

“The in-shack heat detector will ring when a fire is detected, enabling the family in the home to respond proactively and possibly extinguish the fire,” he says.

If this is not the case, the device will then trigger all devices within a 100m range of itself, using transmission technology, to create a community-wide alert.

“This will serve to proactively alert people of the danger to either assist in containing the fire, or saving family members and belongings,” he says.

The company sold 850 devices between its launch in November last year and the end of January.

“Lumkani has already detected two fires which the community has verified would have displaced many people, had the network effect of the devices not taken place and created a community-wide response to the fire,” he says.

“The critical challenge we want to address is both the personal safety aspect of one’s family in the home as well as the spread of the fire to the surrounding community.”

The company recently won the South African rounds of the Chivas Regal Win the Right Way Campaign, and as part of this are launching the crowd-funding campaign this month. The campaign will work in tandem with The Venture website. The more votes the company gets on this site, the bigger the share of $250 000 funding Lumkani will receive.V

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