A smoke detector is a device that senses the presence of smoke in a building and warns the occupants, enabling them to escape a fire before succumbing to smoke inhalation or burns. Equipping a home with at least one smoke detector cuts in half the chances that the residents will die in a fire.
Statitrol developed and manufactured several models of smoke detectors. Commercial models were developed for Honeywell with direct alternating current connections. Other models manufactured by Statitrol and later Emerson Electric were battery operated models intended for residental use. The battery operated models were improved over time, changing the design from using a hard to find 4.5 volt battery to the common 1.5 volt alkaline batteries available in most stores.
The Duane Pearsall Papers contain a small collection of smoke detectors manufactured by his company Statitrol. The images of Statitrol's Smokegard line of smoke detectors are photographs taken of the items housed in the archived physical collection. Five detectors are permanently on display and can be viewed in the permanent Gordon Library exhibit, "Profiles of Innovation" located on the ground floor of the library.
- The items in the permanent exhibit include the Beige Commercial Serial No 001.
- The gray #15 commercial commemorative representing 100,000 units shipped.
- The Smokegard 700 series demo unit in clear housing received verbal UL approval in 1973.
- The wood prototype Model 700 was the design model for the first home smoke detector in the 1960s.
- The fifth model in the exhibit is the special White House Smokegard 800; it was sent to the White House but it was returned with a note explaining the gift could not be accepted because of a no gift rule.
Manufacture of smoke detectors began in the US in 1968 by Statitrol Corp., owned by Duane D. Pearsall. it became the first US manufacturer to introduce a UL approved commercial ionization smoke detector system. The video featuring smoke detectors shows prototypes and early production models from the private collection of Duane D. Pearsall.
The smokegard smoke detector video can be viewed here.