Richard Newsham Fire EngineThe history of the fire extinguisher in Britain really begins in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London. When houses were rebuilt, the owners wanted a way to ensure that their buildings would be protected from such a disaster happening again. This led to the development of mobile fire services employed by the insurance companies. These mobile firemen needed some way of putting out flames, and in 1721 a man named Richard Newsham took out a patent on a ‘water engine’ designed to help fire-fighters put out fires. This water engine could extinguish fires by sending out a jet of pressurised water, and this is the first time that something similar to the fire extinguisher had been used, although at this stage it was a fire engine rather than a fire extinguisher.

Other forms of early fire extinguisher were invented in the early Eighteenth century, including Ambrose Godfrey’s version of the water sprinkler, where fires would be put out by triggering fuses, connected to gunpowder. The explosion was designed to release large amounts of liquid, and thus put out the fire. However, these inventions did not develop into the modern fire extinguisher until 1813, when George Manby invented the Extincteur. Large copper jars held gallons of potassium carbonate and compressed air. This extinguisher worked by smothering the flames, much like a modern device.

Soda Acid Fire ExtinguisherFrance and the United States contributed to the development of the British Fire Extinguisher, with the ‘Soda acid’ extinguisher being used in France from 1866, and in the US from 1881. In the 20th century, other developments included the Chemical foam extinguisher, developed in 1905, and the Carbon Tetrachloride (CTC) Fire Extinguisher, which was developed in 1912. In the case of the latter, CTC is pushed out of the container, and the vapour smothers the flames. Modern Fire extinguishers, using a combination of compressed gas and foam, have developed from these inventions to what we know today. We have learnt a lot about fire and how to control it over the years which is why you often see different types of extinguisher standing next to each other for different types of fire.

If you would like to learn more about fire extinguishers and their uses, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to help. We offer fire extinguisher sales and supply as well as fire extinguisher service and maintenance covering Milton Keynes, Northampton, Bedford, Aylesbury, Oxford and Luton.