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Fascinating facts about the invention of smoke alarms and smoke detectors by BRK Electronics (First Alert) in 1969. SMOKE ALARM / SMOKE DETECTOR
In 1969 BRK Electronics (who would later launch the First Alert® brand ) designed the first battery-operated smoke alarm to receive UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) Listing. During the 1970's, as part of the Pittway Corporation, the smoke alarm division flourished.

As a division of Pittway, BRK Electronics flourished. During the early 70’s, intense product development produced a series of high quality, affordable, battery and AC powered and system smoke alarms. BRK Electronics used these successes to enter the new construction and mobile home markets and increase its share of the commercial system smoke alarm market.

In 1974, Sears, Roebuck and Company put its name on a BRK Electronics battery-operated smoke alarms. The response was outstanding. The popularity of the Sears alarm was so strong it prompted other manufacturers to enter the residential smoke detector market.

In 1976, BRK Electronics introduced First Alert® brand battery-operated residential smoke alarms. Consumers responded enthusiastically and sales of First Alert brand alarms became a major part of BRK Electronics’ total sales. By 1980, First Alert brand products had become the most recognized name in smoke detection. First Alert, together with BRK® brand alarms sold primarily to electrical contractors, combined to make BRK Electronics the leading manufacturer of residential alarms.

BRK Electronics did not rest on its laurels. The division built a comprehensive line of home safety and security products, including rechargeable lanterns m 1982 rechargeable flash lights in 1985, disposable fire extinguishers in 1986, a line of home security lighting products in 1992 and a carbon monoxide alarm in 1993.


History of Household Items    from The Great Idea Finder

Smoke Alarm Training for Your Dog
by Anders Hallgren / Paperback: 34 pages / Hallwig Publishing; (February 4, 2002)

Swedish animal behaviorist and psychologist Anders Hallgren teaches how to train your dog to have a nose for smoke and fire. With simple step-by-step training sessions and illustrative photos, you can teach your dog to warn you and your family before the smoke alarm goes off and the fire starts.

First Alert
During the 1970's, as part of the Pittway Corporation, the smoke alarm division flourished.

Edwards Signaling Company
Company history from 1872 to the present.

NFPA Fact Sheets -Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarm technology has been around since the 1960s. But the single-station, battery-powered smoke alarm we know today became available to consumers in the 1970s. From NFPA (National Fire Protection Association),

Home Smoke Alarm Tests
Research performed at by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), under the general guidance of a steering committee of the sponsoring organizations.
Home Safety for Kids
At this site you will test your home fire safety knowledge and play some really fun games!  Sponsored by Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Fire Administration.
Product Safety Tips: Smoke Alarms
Few of us realize how easily -- and how quickly -- fire can destroy our homes and take the lives of those we love. Fortunately, a product is available that can help protect us against fire… the smoke alarm. Presented by Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

How Smoke Detectors Work by Marshall Brain at How Stuff Works. Lots of cookies and POP-UP ADS at this site.

"I useta get another candle on my birthday cake every year, but that was before the invention of the smoke alarm." By Terry Dickson, Jacksonville Times-Union staff writer

Main Entry: smoke detector
- an alarm that activates automatically when it detects smoke
Function: noun


  • Residential smoke alarm, in 1967
  • Residential carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, in 1993
  • Combination smoke and CO alarm, in 1996
  • Remote control CO alarm, in 2000
  • Remote control smoke alarm, in 2001
  • 15 of every 16 homes (94%) in the U.S. have at least one smoke alarm.
  • One-half of home fire deaths occur in the 6% of homes with no smoke alarms.
  • Homes with smoke alarms (whether or not they are operational) typically have a death rate that is 40-50% less than the rate for homes without alarms.
  • In three of every 10 reported fires in homes equipped with smoke alarms, the devices did not work. Households with non-working smoke alarms now outnumber those with no smoke alarms.
  • Why do smoke alarms fail? Most often because of missing, dead or disconnected batteries.


Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised February, 2005.

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