History Of The Fire Extinguisher

by Maya Y


When and where did it begin?

Did you know that fire extinguishers have been around since the 1700s? The invention of fire extinguishers has saved countless lives. Today, we are looking into the history and evolution of these vital life-saving devices.

A celebrated 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. Consisted of a copper vessel of 3 gallons of pearl ash (potassium carbonate) solution contained within compressed air.

The soda-acid extinguisher was first patented by Francois Carlier of France, which mixed a solution of water and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) with tartaric acid, producing the propellant Co2 gas.

Soda acid antique fire extinguisher

The cartridge-operated extinguisher was invented by Read & Campbell of England, which used water or water-based solutions. They later invented a carbon tetrachloride model called the "Petrolex" which was marketed toward automotive use.

The chemical foam extinguisher was invented by Aleksandr Loran in Russia, based on his previous invention of fire fighting foam.

Chemical foam antique fire extinguisher

The Pyrene Manufacturing Company of Delaware filed a patent for using carbon tetrachloride (CTC, or CCl4) to extinguish fires. In 1911 they patented a small, portable extinguisher that used the chemical..

The carbon dioxide (Co2) extinguisher was invented (at least in the US) by the Walter Kidde Company in response to Bell Telephone's request for an electrically non-conductive chemical for extinguishing the previously difficult-to-extinguish fires in telephone switchboards. Carbon dioxide extinguishes fire mainly by displacing oxygen. It was once thought that it worked by cooling, although this effect on most fires is negligible.

Bell Telephone Co2 extinguisher made by Walter Kidde

DuGas (later bought by ANSUL) came out with a cartridge-operated dry chemical extinguisher, which used sodium bicarbonate specially treated with chemicals to render it free-flowing and moisture-resistant. It consisted of a copper cylinder with an internal Co2 cartridge.

Germany invented the liquid chlorobromomethane (CBM) for use in aircraft. It was more effective and slightly less toxic than carbon tetrachloride and was used until the late 1960s, being officially banned by the NFPA for use in fire extinguishers in 1969 as safer and more effective agents such as halon 1211 and 1301 were developed. Due to its ozone depletion potential, its production was banned from January 1, 2002.

Amerex HALON 1211 Fire Extinguisher 

Fact: To this day, many other national aviation authorities have not ban Halon because of the effectiveness at extinguishing fire.

ABC dry chemical came over from Europe, with Super-K (dry chemical firefighting powder based on Potassium Chloride) being invented in the early 60s and Purple-K (dry chemical) being developed by the US Navy in the late 1960s.


In short, 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 Fire Fighter Industry, we understand how important it is for businesses to have confidence in the quality of their fire extinguishers. Get yourself FIREPROOF with our fire extinguisher today!


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