February 10, 1863 Fire Extinguisher Patented

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First US fire extinguisher patent granted to Alanson Crane, Virginia

 

Fire safety was somewhat of a contradiction in terms of centuries past, when everything from cooking to heating to lighting relied on open flames, and building codes were considerably looser. Fire suppression systems became considerably more advanced by the late 1700s. More than just water, they utilized chemical reactions to smother the fires, first just with plain saltwater and then with carbon tetrachloride for electrical fires. The technology of the fire retardant delivery improved much, too.

On this day, February 10, in 1863 the first fire extinguisher was patented in the United States, by Alanson Crane, of Virginia. The tube-container was a step up from the fire suppression glass “grenades” that were previously the most popular form of emergency firefighting.

Little is known about Crane himself, and numerous patents were granted to fire extinguisher inventions around the same time as his. But it is very likely his worked on the same oxygen-deprivation principle of firefighting. Very many early extinguishers contained soda water and bicarbonates, creating carbon dioxide foam from mixing the two (think baking soda and vinegar).

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