Fire extinguishers have undergone changes throughout the centuries. A fire extinguisher in the 18th century consisted of a chamber containing gunpowder and a cask holding flame-retardant liquid. Nineteenth-century fire extinguishers were made of glass and looked like a glass bomb, with a lit fuse that was hurled by the firefighters of that time or regular folk into flames. The brass or copper antique pump extinguishers made in the early 1920s are recognized as antiques because the earlier-model fire extinguishers from the 18th and 19th centuries didn't survive.
The earliest-model antique fire extinguisher from the 1700s contained fire-retardant liquid and gunpowder, with a built-in fuse. The lit fuse would ignite the gunpowder, and the fire-retardant liquid would be released into the fire.
In 1818, British Captain George William Manby patented the first prototypical fire extinguisher. It was similar to the ones used today, with a compressed-air and potassium carbonate mixture placed in a copper cylinder. The potassium carbonate would be expelled from the compressed air through a pump, and applied to the bottom of the flames to douse them.
Manby's invention was expanded on in France around 1866 by utilizing the combining of chemicals. The mix consisted of water, sodium bicarbonate and tartaric acid to produce carbon dioxide.
In 1905, the first foam fire extinguisher was invented; it consisted of water, sodium bicarbonate and a foaming compound. There was a small aluminum sulfate chamber within the cylinder, and it was sealed until the fire extinguisher was positioned to be used. The seal would break, releasing the chemical mixture, which resulted in a carbon dioxide formation, producing thick brown foam.
In the early 1900s, a carbon tetrachloride extinguisher was manufactured by a company called Pyrene. It had a characteristic chrome or brass holding cylinder, with hand-pumping action atypical for this time period. Many houses or establishments simply burned to the ground before the invention of the pump fire extinguisher in the early 1900s, which could more accurately extinguish flames before they got out of control.
One of the most famous fire extinguisher companies is Elkhart, which got its start in 1902. Elkhart invented the first ball-type shutoff nozzle in the 1920s, and the company advanced its line and design of fire extinguishers. The company is still in operation as of 2010.
- Photo Credit fire extinguisher image by Chris Roselli from Fotolia.com
How to Clean Old Brass Fire Extinguishers
About Antique Fire Extinguishers; Comments You May Also Like. How to Polish a Brass Fire Extinguisher. Comments. You May Also Like. How...
How to Clean an Old Copper Fire Extinguisher
How to Clean Vintage Fire Extinguishers; How to Clean Old Brass Fire Extinguishers; Print this article; Things You'll Need. A garden hose;...
How to Use a Smudge Pot
Maintain a fire extinguisher for oil within easy reach. ... How to Grow Cherry Bomb Peppers; What Are the Causes of Lights...
Soda Acid Fire Extinguisher Information
Over 70 years ago, copper or brass soda acid fire extinguishers were highly polished, ... About Antique Fire Extinguishers; How to Make...
DOT Hot Shot Regulations
... have a fire extinguisher, ... hobbyists and antique-vehicle sellers often need to transport one or two vehicles at a time to...
How to Dispose of Old Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers come in a variety of types and can save lives when used correctly. Once their usefulness has ended, however, care...
The History of Fire Pumps
... much of the fire fighting equipment consisted of a bucket and a line to pass this water-filled "extinguisher." Some early ......
What Are the Chemicals in a Fire Extinguisher?
Fire extinguishers have been around for a long time in one form or the other. Today's models have come a long way...
Guide to Selling Vintage Oil Cans
Oil cans may seen mundane but are no longer manufactured, and thus have become popular items among collectors of gas station and...