It may seem odd today, but not long ago, automatic detection for fires, carbon monoxide, and other dangerous situations was not common.

According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association):

The change in attitude has been the result of a series of significant fire incidents and research developments. The significant fires resulted in the loss of numerous lives and/or involved substantial damage to property and contents and the lack of early detection was identified as a major factor in the outcome of the fire.

Today, nearly everyone has at least one smoke detector in their home, but as you can see, it wasn’t always this way. Ahead, we’ll explore the history of the smoke detector and how it earned its rightful place in homes across the nation and the world.

The First Smoke Detector

Francis Robbins Upton first patented a fire alarm that used electricity in 1890. Upton was a close associate of the famous inventor Thomas Edison. In Europe (Birmingham, England to be exact), an electric “heat detector” was also patented around this time — in 1902.

But it wasn’t until the 1930s that things really got going for the smoke alarm. Walter Jaeger was a physicist in Switzerland who was attempting to create a sensor that would notify you when poisonous gas was present. His first attempt at this did not work. However, when Jaeger became frustrated and lit a cigarette to have a think on the matter, he was surprised to see that his alarm perked right up. This was the first experiment that helped pave the path for what would become the traditional smoke detector or smoke alarm.

The first smoke detectors were available for sale in America in 1951, but only large commercial organizations used them. Later, in 1955, residential fire alarms were available, and slowly over the next few decades, these alarms became staples in the home.

Modern-Day Smoke Detectors

Today, there are two types of smoke alarms. Photoelectric smoke alarms act quicker when warning people about smoldering fires. On the other hand, ionization smoke alarms act quicker when alarming people about flaming fires. You’ll ideally want to have both of these forms of smoke alarms inside your house, or certain alarms actually feature both forms of sensors.

Don’t Have Smoke Detectors in Your Home? Get Them Sooner Than Later

If you don’t already have smoke detectors in your home, it’s time to get them.

Fires can happen anywhere in the home at any time of the day, and a smoke alarm can save your life and the lives of your family members. When properly installed, these little devices play an essential role in reducing injuries and deaths.

Here’s what you need to know about having smoke alarms in your home:

You’ll need lots of them.

In many cases, closed off rooms can easily slow down the spread of a fire, including the heat and smoke that would otherwise tip off a smoke alarm. For this reason, you’ll need a smoke alarm in every room of your house where people sleep, outside of the rooms where people sleep, and on each level of your home.


Traditional smoke alarms that you purchase at a home-improvement store will simply notify the nearby vicinity that there is a fire. But newer, more advanced smoke alarms can actually contact the authorities when there’s a fire. For example, Protect America smoke detectors have professionals monitoring them at all times, and when a fire emergency signal is received at the monitoring station, the authorities are also notified. This can save you and your home when the situation becomes dire. Interested in monitored home security? Get a free quote from Protect America.

Smoke alarms need to be replaced.

Buying a smoke alarm once and calling it good won’t cut it. You need to replace every smoke alarm in your home every 10 years. Also, make sure to stay on top of batteries. Your smoke alarms should beep or blink or both when they new batteries, and you shouldn’t waste any time in changing them when this occurs.

Do you have smoke alarms in your home? Are they less than 10 years old? Do their batteries need checking? These are essential safety devices that shouldn’t be ignored. Check your smoke alarms today to keep you and your family safe!