A Brief History Of Fire Extinguishers

8 January 2018

Fire extinguishers are an integral part of fire safety and it’s a legal requirement to have them in all premises. Since their introduction, fire extinguishers have saved countless lives. But how did people put out fires before extinguishers were invented? Fire extinguishers have only been around for a couple of centuries, and we’re looking into the history of these vital devices.

Greek origins

The genesis of fire extinguishers can be traced back to 200 BC, when Ctesibius of Alexandria invented a hand operated water pump that was able to disperse fire. The invention replaced the time consuming method of passing water buckets from person to person. Ctesibius’ pump provided the blueprint for other variations of fire safety devices.

During the Middle Ages, a syringe-like contraption called a squirt was used to put out fires. The nozzle was dipped into water to extract a few pints. The squirt then pumped water on to flames. They were used during the Great Fire of London, but weren’t very effective. However, squirts were a precursor to basic firefighting equipment and ‘squirt’ guns.

A modern interpretation

In 1723, chemist Ambrose Godfrey patented the first fire extinguisher. It contained a mixture of gunpowder and a fire-extinguishing liquid inside a pewter chamber. It had a system of fuses that ignited to explode the gunpowder and release the liquid. British Captain George William Manby developed the modern fire extinguisher in 1818. It housed three gallons of potassium carbonate solution and compressed air.

Other variations were created, such as the soda-acid extinguisher in 1866. Francois Carlier patented this version and it mixed water and sodium bicarbonate with tartaric acid. The chemical foam extinguisher was created by Russian engineer Aleksandr Loran in 1904. He also invented firefighting foam. Loran’s extinguisher contained sodium bicarbonate in water and aluminium sulphate. When released together, the liquids turned into foam and proved to be an effective way of putting out fire.

Further developments were made in the 1924, when the carbon dioxide extinguisher was invented in the US by the Walter Kidde Company. It was made in response to developing an electrically non-conductive chemical for extinguishing fires in telephone switchboards. The carbon dioxide extinguisher consisted of a metal cylinder with a wheel valve and a brass hose covered with cotton.

Fire extinguishers have continued to be updated through the years to comply with the best safety practices. They are an invaluable part of protecting your residence against fire damage. At Total Fire Services, we understand how important it is for businesses to have confidence in the quality of their fire extinguishers. We provide a variety of fire extinguishers that are covered by a 5 year warranty.

For more information contact us today on 01204 697 990.






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