Innovation of the Era!
Mid to Late 1800s

Do it Yourself Firefighting

During the early 1800's, canisters with mixtures of substances were marketed as "fire extinguishers," but they were not pressurized. They were marketed to homeowners and were not very successful at putting out fires. Fire grenades were also available during this time. A fire grenade is a glass container filled with chemicals that was thrown at the base of a fire. The container would shatter and the chemicals were supposed to put out the fire. Some of these grenades contained chemicals that were harmful to humans and although they worked well on electrical fires, they soon were a thing of the past, due to their toxic nature. The late 1800's saw the pressurized fire extinguisher developed in the U.S. These would have been similar to modern extinguishers, but would have been in copper containers, rather than the red metal units we recognize today. Modern fire extinguishers come in many types that were developed to be effective on specific types of fires.
A selection of copper fire extinguishers. These extinguishers were used into the 1960's.
With names like "The Invincible Fire-King" these early fire extinguishers promised great results, but in reality, they were fairly useless fighting fires. This fact coupled with the fact that they cost around $3 each, which was a lot of money to the average person in the 1800's, led to them disappearing off the market rather quickly.