The fire extinguisher has a long history because fire is dangerous and unpleasant. A fire could spread around very quickly, destroy a house and kill anyone inside. People have been worried about fire for thousands of years. They looked for ways to fight fire before someone finally invented the fire extinguisher.
Fire Extinguisher History
Fire extinguisher history has a list of crucial dates, which include:
~200 B.C. – A hand pump able to deliver water to a fire was invented by Ctesibius of Alexandria.
~800 – 1700 A.D. – A large hand plunger called a ‘squirt’ was used to suck water out of a reservoir and spray it onto a fire.
1723 – Ambrose Godfrey of Englang patents the first automatic fire extinguisher. It was powered by gunpowder which would blast the contents outwards towards the fire. This was the first recorded patent for a fire extinguisher.
1818 – The first ‘modern’ fire extinguisher. It was invented by British Captain George William Manby and was made of a copper vessel filled with compressed air mixed with potassium carbonate.
1866 – Francois Carlier of France invented the soda-acid fire extinguisher. It was filled with a solution of water, sodium bicarbonate and tartaric acid.
1872 – Thomas J. Martin, a Black inventor, was granted a U.S. patent for a fire extinguisher that used carbon tetrachloride and water to put out fires.
1881- A different soda-acid extinguisher was patented by Almon M. Granger in the United States. This worked by expelling pressurized water through a reaction between sulfuric acid and sodium bicarbonate.
1881 – The 1st cartridge-operated water fire extinguisher was invented in England by Read & Campbell.
1890s – A hand thrown ‘bomb’ style fire extinguisher was invented filled with CTC (carbon tetrachloride). This type used a chemical reaction to put the fire out.
1904 – 1st chemical foam fire extinguisher was invented in Russia, by Aleksandr Loran.
1911 – A small fire extinguisher filled with carbon tetrachloride (CTC) was patented by the Pyrene Manufacturing Company of Delaware.
1924 – The 1st carbon dioxide (C02) fire extinguisher was invented in the U.S. by the Walter Kidde Company. Its first uses were for putting out electrical fires on telephone switchboards.
1928 – 1st cartridge operated dry chemical fire extinguisher was made by DuGas (later ANSUL).
1940s – Liquid chlorobromomethane (CBM) fire extinguisher invented in Germany intended for use in aircraft.
1950s – Halon fire extinguishers first used.
1960s – Super – K and Purple – K fire extinguishers invented.
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When Was The Fire Extinguisher Invented?
The very first fire extinguisher was likely invented in Egypt by Ctesibius of Alexandria around 200 B.C. This likely looked nothing like modern fire extinguishers nor did it have the same effectiveness or convenience. This was a simple hand operated water pump.
When Was The 1st Modern Fire Extinguisher Invented?
No one person invented the modern fire extinguisher. It was actually an ongoing evolution made by different individuals.
However, British Captain George William Manby is given credit for inventing the first portable pressurized fire extinguisher around 1810, called the “Extincteur”. This used potassium carbonate stored within a copper vessel along with compressed air to extinguish the fire.
Modern fire extinguishers are made with an aluminum canister to store contents at high pressure. The rest of the parts are mostly made of steel and plastic. The processes required for making modern fire extinguisher parts in mass production would not have been possible prior to the early 1800s, or even the late 1800s.
Fires have always been a great danger to humans throughout history, and this compelled inventors to create fire extinguishers. That is why today, fire extinguishers are made in large quantities and stored for use worldwide to handle fire emergencies.