Fire Extinguisher History

Believe it or not, not only are fire extinguishers an important part of our everyday safety, they are an important part of our history as well! If you are as curious as we are at County Fire Protection, you have probably wondered how these bright red powerhouses have come to be a staple in homes and businesses worldwide. Here are a few highlights of how fire extinguishers developed and changed throughout the decades.

  • 200 B.C. -  Ctesibius of Alexandria crafted a hand pump designed to deliver water to fires. This method replaced the cumbersome technique of passing buckets from hand to hand to transport water to fires.

  • The Middle Ages – Devices called “squirts” were developed which worked like bicycle pumps. These were used on the 1666 Great Fire of London.

  • 1819 – Captain George Manby invented the first version of the modern portable fire extinguisher. It was made of copper vessel which sprayed potassium carbonate solution using compressed air.

  • 1912 – An extinguisher model using carbon tetrachloride was massed produced. It was found suitable for liquid and electrical fires and was quite popular in motor vehicles for decades. The ingredients however were very toxic, and many deaths resulted from inhalation, especially in small confined spaces.

  • Mid Twentieth Century – The modern fire extinguisher has emerged! This modern marvel was followed by various models using a wide array of ingredients.

There’s no doubt fire extinguishers have come a long way and remain our best line of defense in beating a fire. Remember, it is very important to understand how to properly use a fire extinguisher as well as keeping up with timely maintenance to your extinguishers. If you have questions about your building’s fire extinguisher requirements, or would like more information about fire extinguishers, contact County Fire Protection at 1-330-673-3600 or visit our website at

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