Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fire Extinguishers


The Ancient Specimens and the Transition to the Modern Machine.

What is perhaps the oldest known fire engine for pumping water is mentioned in the "Spiritalia" of Hero, about 150 B. C. This engine had two single acting pumps, the plungers of which were worked by a single beam pivoted between the two. The streams united in a single discharge pipe, passing up a trunk in which was an air chamber and out at a nozzle which could be turned in any direction. This description might stand for a great many forms of hand fire engines used even to the present day. The early Romans appear to have paid quite some attention to fire extinguishing apparatus and had an organized fire brigade.

Something like the more modern fire engine appears to have been brought out in the early part of the sixteenth century and is described as a "water syringe." This was mounted on wheels and was worked by levers. Fire engines of this kind were apparently much used in Germany. In England, during the latter part of the sixteenth century, large brass syringes were employed, holding several quarts of water and operated by three men, two holding the syringe at each side with one hand and directing the nozzle with the other and the third operating the plunger. After having discharged the water the syringe was refilled from a cistern or well near the fire or from buckets. Later those water squirts were fitted to portable cisterns or tanks.

In the latter part of the seventeenth century a portable engine, mounted on a cistern or tank, from which the water was drawn, was introduced in England by Newsham. This engine was in many respects similar to the modern hand fire engine and continued in use in England up to 1832.

The Newsham engine was perhaps the first successful fire engine and really was the pioneer of the modern manually operated engines. The pumps were of various sizes and designs and were in most cases operated by levers. Various forms of engines, similar to the Newsham engine, continued in use as late as 1850. — Cassier's Magazine.

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