Lumkani: Solving Household Fire


Lumkani solves household fire problems through a smoke detector and insurance. Lumkani is a small blue box. First, it measures the rate of temperature rise and then detects smoke. This ultimately reduces cases of false alarms. The most exciting thing about how Lumkani works is that it uses radio frequency to communicate messages and alert people within a 60m radius in case of an emergency. After 30 seconds, if the initial alarm isn’t triggered, the network centre device places GPS coordinates from Blaze to coordinate with firefighters for immediate intervention

Lumkani started as a university assignment by Francois Petousis then an electrical engineering student at the University of Cape Town. Petousis built a smoke detector that uses the exact temperature change to detect potential fire incidents, similar to the temperature detection device built by Samuel Ginsberg.

As a result of the excellent reception from the University, the group of young men decided to commercialize it. Lumkani translates to “be careful” in Xhosa language. Fire incidents have been prevalent in South Africa, leading to loss of properties and sometimes lives. For example, the 2018 fire outbreak at Cape Town Township Khayelitsha left 4,000 people displaced.

They also partnered with Johnson Controls to aid the protection of lives and properties in urban cities. In November 2014, Lumkani distributed 7,000 devices in the South African slums. The Lumkani founders installed detectors in 5000 households with a high fire outbreak rate in Cape town. The startup intends to partner with several local governments and provide devices to more households in informal settlements at a low or no cost.

Read about more African Startups here.

Awards and recognition

Lumkani has won global innovation in the Best Startup Awards in a science and technology competition. 2015 was the best year for this startup because they got funds from the South African Technology Innovation Agency as finalists for the Young Katherine M. Swanson Innovator Award. Lumkani Awards include the people award and global competition in social ventures 2015. In 2020, Lumkani won Horizon EIC prizes for high-tech and humanitarian aid at EU Research & Innovation Days. Still a growing company, they need lots of international publicity, which they hope to get with the help of the CEO David Gluckman.

End note 

Africa is a continent filled with endless talented individuals ready to showcase their ingenuity given the opportunity. Lumkani is the right step towards preventing and solving fire incidents, so their vision is to reach other African countries and possibly other continents. With proper funding, this fire detection device could prove helpful in many households and solve damages associated with preventable fire. 


  • Promise Irefin

    I'm Promise, an experienced content writer and my passion for writing is indescribable, I take people on a journey with my writing, and I love appealing to my audience emotions.

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