Curiosities: Who invented the fire extinguisher?

By Eddy Montilla.

EXTINGHISHER

A fire extinguisher, a small portable device with chemicals inside for putting out small fires, has saved many houses from collapsing and many people from dying. But who invented it?

     Ctesibius (or Ktesibios) Of Alexandria, a Greek physicist and inventor who lived most probably between years 285 and 222 BC, had already invented a force pump for water more than 2,000 years ago. This hand pump could discharge water to a fire. However, there seems to be a consensus that British Captain George William Manby (1765-1864) invented the first modern fire extinguisher in 1813. He is credited with the invention of a copper cylinder which held three gallons of a fire-extinguishing solution (pearl ash/potassium carbonate) under pressure. The compressed solution was forced out through a tube onto the fire. He worked on his project when he witnessed a fire and saw the firefighters’ difficulties to reach upper areas of burning buildings. George William Manby also worked on a mechanism for catching people who jumped from blazing buildings safely.

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