Devices take heat off shacks

2016-04-26 06:00

Around 1700 heat detectors have been rolled out in Masiphumelele homes to help reduce the risk of shack fires.

The devices, installed by social enterprise firm Lumkani, are designed specifically with shack dwellers in mind and detect an increase in heat instead of smoke.

Lumkani’s vision is to mitigate the loss of life and property caused by dangerous fires occurring in informal settlements, financial director David Gluckman previously told People’s Post (“New device to detect fires, 10 March 2015)

The heat detection technology has been proven to be 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. 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 product was born 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 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.

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

“We know that Masi is one of the most high fire risk communities in the country and so we have diverted resources to this community,” Gluckman says.

The project was funded using a crowd-funding platform called Indiegogo. “Thousands of people around the world contributed to making this a reality.”

Gluckman hopes to grow the project, is calling on the City of Cape Town and residents of surrounding communities to assist Lumkani in installing a detector in every home in Masiphumelele.

“We have only scraped the surface with our investment of 1700 devices. The community has already been involved by accepting us into their community and opening their homes to our installation team,” he says.

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