Origin of ordinary things: Fire extinguisher

Fire extinguishers have been around for 200 years. / Net photo.

Fire extinguisher is a portable or movable apparatus used to put out a small fire by directing onto it a substance that cools the burning material, deprives the flame of oxygen, or interferes with the chemical reactions occurring in the flame.

They are essential items in all homes, cars and offices. Many simple fire extinguishers, therefore, are small tanks equipped with hand pumps or sources of compressed gas to propel water through a nozzle. 


The Romans used bucket chains, buckets passed hand to hand to deliver water to the fire. Then, in the middle ages, a nozzle dipped into water worked rather like a bicycle pump – the water was sucked up by pulling out the plunger, then the plunger pushed down to push out the water which would be aimed at the fire. This was known as a squirt. Squirts were used to tackle the Great Fire of London in 1666. This is according to fireandelectrical.co.uk.


According to newswire.com, fire extinguishers have been in existence for the last 200 years. The first portable fire extinguisher was devised almost two centuries ago in England by George Manby. In 1813, he invented what was then known as the Extincteur. 


This was made using compressed air and three gallons of potassium carbonate solution. The concept of propelling the fire suppressant out of the container using pressurized gas was first used by Manby. This is still followed today in the modern and advanced fire extinguishers. Badger fire extinguishers provide all solutions for all kinds of fire.

Ambrose Godfrey is credited for the invention of the first fire extinguisher. It was not portable and meant to be placed in a room. Almost ninety years before Manby’s Extincteur, Godfrey used a series of fuses to extinguish fires. The fuses detonated an explosive charge in the liquid of the container.

 This liquid was then used to put off the fire. George Manby did not stop his contribution to fighting fire with the Extincteur. He went on to suggest the necessity of the national fire rescue service. He also invented various systems to rescue people of burning buildings as well as people who fell through ice into water. The Manby Motor was also popular in his times as it helped to rescue people from ships.

However, the first soda acid fire extinguisher was not invented till 1866. The idea of blending two substances to produce carbon dioxide was first used by Francois Carlier in France. He used the resultant carbon dioxide to extinguish fire. He used a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and tartaric acid to produce carbonic acid. The United States witnessed their first soda acid fire extinguisher in 1881, when Almon M. Granger patented his. 

Badger fire extinguishers are excellent for fighting chemical fires. Alexander Laurant was the first to invent the chemical foam fire extinguisher in Russia in 1905. The mechanism was just like the soda acid fire extinguishers except the additional foam. Foam was produced by trapping a part of the gas into the liquid. Licorice root of the soda solution was used to make the foam. Chemical foam fire extinguishers were used upside down to allow the chemicals to blend with each other.


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