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Home > Fire Prevention > Antique Fire Extinguishers History

Antique Fire Extinguishers - History

The first fire extinguisher was patented in England in 1723, but fire extinguishing devices have been around for centuries.  The precursor of the modern fire extinguisher made its debut nearly 200 years ago, as the timelines below shows.

Timeline of Modern Fire Extinguishers

1818 – Potassium carbonate and compressed air (first version of modern fire extinguisher)
1866 – Soda-acid extinguisher
1904 – Chemical foam extinguisher
1910 – Carbon tetrachloride extinguishers
1924 – Carbon dioxide extinguisher
1928 – Dry chemical extinguisher
1940 – Liquid chlorobromomethane extinguisher
1940s – Halon

The fire grenade type of extinguisher, like those pictured below, used carbon tetrachloride (CTC) to interfere with the chemical reaction of the fire process. Glass globes filled with CTC were thrown at the base of the fire.

Nowadays, old fire extinguishers may be carefully restored, made into lamps, or safeguarded in museums.


Fire extinguisher, Belgium, 1756


Comet-style/grenade style carbon tetrachloride fire extinguisher,
Black House Museum, Snohomish, Washington, USA


Red comet-style/grenade style carbon tetrachloride fire extinguisher,
Black House Museum, Snohomish, Washington, USA


1904 advertisement for fire extinguishers