The smoke alarm is a standard part of home safety equipment. But what if you step out and aren't there to hear it going off? The Fire Avert steps in where the smoke alarm leaves off, helping to prevent kitchen fires.

The Fire Avert plugs into the 220-volt electrical outlet and the stove. Its microphone picks up the sound of the smoke alarm, and it cuts power to the stove when activated by the alarm frequency. According to the company, food and cookware can simmer and smoke for hours before igniting into a fire. By shutting power off right away, the Fire Avert aims to eliminate the heat source before a fire starts burning. To reset the stove and Fire Avert, you simply flip the breaker in your electrical panel off and on without having to pull the stove out from the wall.

The Fire Avert includes a built-in 3-minute delay that gives an attendant cook enough time to clear out the smoke and shut off the alarm. If the smoke alarm stops sounding within three minutes, the Fire Avert never cuts power to the stove. This way, the stove doesn't shut off while you're actively cooking, only if the alarm continues sounding for three minutes (i.e. no one is there to shut it off).

If you're not familiar with fire statistics, you're probably thinking something along the lines of "wouldn't you hear the smoke detector and shut off the stove yourself, without the need for something like the Active Alarm?" In an ideal scenario, you certainly would, but unattended cooking is a very common cause of home fires. The U.S. Fire Administration says that unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires, and Fire Avert claims that 150,000 fires each year are attributable to unattended cooking. While a smoke alarm is an important piece of equipment, it can't overcome all distraction and forgetfulness.

Peter Thorpe, a firefighter in Provo, Utah, conceived the idea for the Fire Avert after responding to numerous unattended cooking fires. He reached out to his friend and engineering graduate student Michael Sanders, who also developed the FlexLeg, for help in fleshing out the design. Sanders and Brigham Young University engineering peer Zack Bomsta have worked through several prototypes and are in the process of developing the final consumer-ready model. They have turned to Indiegogo to raise the US$30,000 worth of funds they'll need to pursue the retail version. They hope to have Fire Avert ready for shipment by the second quarter of next year with an estimated retail price of around $90.

The Fire Avert currently works only with electric stoves with a 220-volt power supply. A gas version is said to be in the works.

The device was originally slated to be the "Active Alarm," but Thorpe told us a re-branding to "Fire Avert" is underway. The website link still has it described as the Active Alarm, but the device is one and the same.

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