No smoke without fire for St Albans inventor

AN IDEAS man from St Albans has invented a smoke alarm worthy of national recognition.

Matthew Newman, 30, of Ashwell Street, is one of three regional finalists in a national competition thanks to his FIRETEXT smoke alarm invention, which when activated sends a text message alert to up to four mobile numbers.

The Barclays Take One Small Step competition, which attracted over 3,600 entries, gives each regional winner �50,000 to give their business idea a boost.

Public votes

Now Matthew, who represents the central region, must secure as many public votes as possible to beat the other two contestants in his category.

Matthew, a key account manager for a plastic packing company, said that he stumbled across the smoke alarm idea.

He explained: “I’m not a seasoned inventor; I just has a moment of inspiration!

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“When I go away on holiday, I always worry that a kitchen electrical appliance or something will catch fire without me knowing and so I decided to try and invent a suitable smoke alarm myself.”

He added: “It was a case of spotting a niche in the market and I think my FIRETEXT alarm would be really useful to those who live alone, or maybe people who are often away on business.

“It’s battery powered and there are no wires, so we could very well be seeing it in homes across St Albans soon.”


Matthew, who entered his idea a couple of weeks ago, has over 30 FIRETEXT smoke alarm prototypes to play with and last year he received funding from the East of England Development Agency to work on his idea.

Matthew, who said he would leave his job if the idea took off, is also about to start broad-based trials with the Alzheimers Society UK and the Herts Fire Authority.

Voting for each region starts on June 7 and to lodge your support for Matthew, text ELS to 87222 or visit and search for his entry, FIRETEXT SMS smoke alarm.

Voting closes on July 4 and texts cost 25p plus your standard network charge.