The Modern Fire Extinguisher


The Modern Fire Extinguisher

The first fire extinguisher ever patented was in 1723 by English chemist Ambrose Godfrey. However, it is the superior device created by fellow Englishman Captain George William Manby in 1818 that is the ancestor of the modern fire extinguisher.

Named the Extincteur,  this extinguisher worked by smothering the flames, much like a modern device - whereas Godfrey's device used exploding gunpowder to overpower the fire and limit its extent. Manby's Extincteur used large copper jars holding gallons of potassium carbonate and compressed air.

Born in Norfolk in 1765, Manby led a colourful life, inventing many other useful devices, travelling to Greenland, and abandoning his wife after being shot by her lover.

He was the first to advocate a national fire brigade, and is considered by some to be a true founder of the RNLI. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1831 in recognition of his many accomplishments.

In later life, Manby became obsessed with Nelson, turning his house in Yarmouth into a Nelson museum filled with memorabilia and living in the basement.

Further reading

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