The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire

Did you know that one of the first fire services actually started in Ancient Rome? Rather that rush to put out the fire of the burning building, the fire service would approach the neighbours and make them pay to put the fire out. The neighbours still had something to lose and would often pay out just to make sure their homes still stood.

 It’s no surprise then that people would often attempt to firefight on their own. To do this you need some sort of extinguisher, which is what this blog looks at. The earliest form of extinguisher would be a simple bucket passed from hand to hand to put out a fire. A long and boring journey through various suction pumps leads us to the creation of the fire extinguisher as we would recognise it. A valuable commodity as you do not need a water source nearby and the water is pressurised to create a jet. Look around you, many people have these in their homes and some of you, who are skiving at work and reading this, may have two or three types for various fires.

Fill it up, and let her rip

 Here are two examples of Fire extinguisher which reside in the museum. This first one is made by an American company but sold through a firm inManchester. It is very similar to a modern fire extinguisher as it is a metallic holder with a nozzle, the beauty of this one is that it is refillable by yourself. You fill the extinguisher with water, and some bicarbonate of water and sulphate and tighten it really quickly.

Still filled and ready for action

 The second is one which was donated to the museum by Blackburn Fire Station and runs on a similar principal to the other one. This one however, still has something in it. I am incredibly tempted to give it a shake and see what happens, although whatever is in there has probably been stagnant for over 50 years. I think it’s probably best if I get a student to do it. I don’t want to get my clothes wet!


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Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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