Who Invented the Fire Extinguisher? [When, Where & How]

Who invented the fire extinguisher? It’s a question that has been asked by children and adults alike for centuries. The fire extinguisher has existed for almost as long as the concept of fire itself, and its importance is clear to anyone with even a basic understanding of the history of civilization.

The fire extinguisher was invented by an English chemist Ambrose Godfrey in 1723. It consisted of a leather bag filled with powdered chemicals, which were used to put out fires. The bag had a long handle attached to it so that people could carry it around.

In this article, we’ll go back in time to examine the history of the fire extinguisher to see how such a simple device made its mark on history.

Find out all the important inventions in the 1800s

Who Invented the Fire Extinguisher and Why?

who invented fire extinguisher invented

The inventor of the fire extinguisher is Ambrose Godfrey, a famous English chemist, who patented his invention in 1723. 

He patented his invention, which consisted of a barrel filled with gunpowder and a slow match attached to a trigger mechanism. 

The barrel would be opened over the fire and the match would ignite the gunpowder.

This early extinguisher was not very effective at putting out fires because it took too long for heat from the fire to travel up through the barrel to ignite the gunpowder.

He had experimented with various methods of putting out fires, including a powder made from potassium nitrate. 

In 1723 Godfrey patented his invention of a chemical fire extinguisher which he called “A Mechanical Fire Engine”.

Modern Fire Extinguisher

Modern fire extinguisher. It was invented by John Ripley Freeman, an American engineer, and inventor. 

He had a long career as an inventor with over 80 patents to his name including the modern portable fire extinguisher that bears his name. 

Modern fire extinguishers work by spraying a mist of liquid chemicals onto the flames.

This type of extinguisher is most commonly used in houses and offices.

Portable Fire Extinguisher

The first version of the modern portable fire extinguisher was invented by Captain George William Manby in 1819.

Manby’s invention was a wooden barrel or cylinder that held a solution of water and potassium carbonate. 

The user would break open the glass bulb at the top, which contained the chemical agent while holding onto the bottom handle. 

When the glass bulb broke, the solution would mix with water and create carbon dioxide gas that put out the fire.

Fire Extinguisher Sprinkler System

The fire extinguisher sprinkler system was invented in the 1870s by Philip Pratt.

The system consisted of a tank full of water and a series of pipes connected to it

The pipes were attached to a mechanism that sprayed water on the fire when triggered by heat. 

The first automatic fire sprinkler system was installed in the Opera House in Boston, Massachusetts in 1874.

Foam Extinguisher

The Foam extinguisher was invented by the Russian engineer and chemist Aleksandr Loran in 1902. 

This type of fire extinguisher uses pressurized foam to put out fires. It can do so by filling the space around a fire with foam, which cuts off its oxygen supply and smothers it.

When Were Fire Extinguishers Invented?

If you want to know when was the first fire extinguisher invented, you have to go way back to the pre-industrial era in England. 

Fire extinguishers were invented in the first half of the 18th century.

The fire extinguisher was invented by Ambrose Godfrey in 1723. He was an English priest who studied chemistry and other subjects related to firefighting. 

The first fire extinguisher was made of two leather bags filled with water and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). This device was called a “fire extinguisher.”

The first recorded attempt at creating an effective fire extinguisher happened in 1632 when a French inventor named Jean-Baptiste Denis invented an air-propelled fire extinguisher. 

It worked by using pressurized air to blow out flames from burning wood or cloth.

In 1804, John Gamgee invented a portable hand-pumped chemical sprayer that could be used to put out small fires on ships, trains, and other vehicles.

What Are the 5 Types of Fire Extinguishers and Their Uses?

Fire extinguishers are one of the most important tools in any firefighting arsenal. 

They can be used to put out small fires before they become big fires, and they can also be used as a last-ditch effort to try and save a building from complete destruction.

Fire extinguishers are categorized into five types based on their chemical contents. 

The most common type is the ABC fire extinguisher, which uses water to put out fires. 

The other fire extinguisher types include CO2, dry chemicals, and foam. Each type has its own strengths and uses.

There are many different types of fire extinguishers, but they are typically broken into categories based on their contents. 

Here are the five types of extinguishers, what they do, and how they work:

  1. Water

Water extinguishers are the most common and least expensive type of fire extinguisher. 

They are also the most effective against Class A fires, which are fueled by wood, paper, and other organic materials such as garbage.

Water extinguishers work by cooling and suffocating the fire.

Water extinguishers have a limited range. They can only be used on fires that are less than 3 feet high and less than 2 feet wide. 

If you need to put out a fire that’s bigger than this, you’ll need a different type of fire extinguisher.

  1. Foam

Foam or AFFF is used for Class B fires, which involve flammable liquids such as gasoline or oil.

These extinguishers use a thick blanket of foam to smother the flames.

They should never be used on Class A fires because they can cause a chemical reaction that increases heat and makes the fire worse.

  1. CO2 (Carbon Dioxide)

Carbon dioxide extinguishers use carbon dioxide gas to put out fires. The gas cools down the temperature of the flames by removing oxygen from the fire’s fuel source. 

Carbon dioxide is safe to use on all kinds of combustible materials except for lithium batteries and aluminum powder because they may become explosive when mixed with CO2 gas.

Carbon dioxide extinguishers are also safe to use on electrical equipment as long as there is no potential for sparks or melting from high heat.

  1. Wet Chemical

Wet chemical extinguishers are the most common type of fire extinguisher and are used on flammable liquids and electrical fires. 

This type of fire extinguisher contains a solution of potassium or sodium bicarbonate and water, which is sprayed onto a fire to cool it down.

These types of extinguishers can be found in almost every home, but they should only be used on small fires that are less than 10 sq ft (1 sq m).

  1. Dry Powder

Dry chemical fire extinguishers are also effective against Class B fires. 

But, they can also put out Class C electrical equipment fires without damaging sensitive electronics like computers or

These types of fires can be extinguished by smothering with dry powder or special absorbent granules called “BC” or “BK” agents that remove heat from the material being burned so it cools down enough to stop burning.

Fire Extinguisher History

history of fire extinguisher

The history of fire extinguishers is a rich one. Its history started with Ambrose Godfrey in 1723. 

He was an English inventor who invented a device called the fire escape bucket, which was used to put out fires by pouring water on them.

The first modern fire extinguisher that we know today was invented by George William Manby in 1818. 

His invention consisted of a glass bulb containing water and carbon tetrachloride which would be thrown at the base of a fire to create a cooling effect so that firefighters could continue their work.

In 1866, Jules Montenier created a hand-held hose that could be used to spray water or soda acid on flames. 

The soda acid would react with flames to produce carbon dioxide gas, which would smother them out. 

In 1911, Charles E. Bowery invented a foam extinguisher that used sodium bicarbonate as its base ingredient; this foam could smother both oil and electrical fires.

Here are some important terms and enterprises related to fire extinguisher history.


Badger Fire Protection was formed in September 1992. It is a family-run business that focuses on fire protection, training, and prevention. 

They provide fire protection services to commercial and residential buildings throughout the Greater Madison area.

They have a wide range of experience in all types of fire protection systems and can handle any size project. 

Their goal is to exceed our customers’ expectations by providing quality workmanship and excellent customer service at a competitive price.


Copper fire extinguishers were introduced in the early 1800s and are still being used today. These extinguishers are not only functional, but they’re also beautiful.

They come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from small to large. Copper fire extinguishers will fit into any decor—from modern to rustic.

These fire extinguishers are highly collectible items that can be passed down for generations. 

They can be displayed as standalone pieces of art or used as functional tools when needed.

Red Comet

Red Comet fire extinguishers were popular from the 1870s to the 1900s. 

They were made by the Red Comet Manufacturing Company, a company that had been founded in 1868 in Greenville, Ohio.

The company started out making small household items such as sewing machines and clocks, but they soon discovered that the need for fire extinguishers was growing rapidly. 

The Red Comet Manufacturing Company decided to jump on this opportunity and began producing its own line of fire extinguishers.


The Pyrene Manufacturing Company was founded in 1911 by two brothers from France, who had immigrated to America.

They were looking for a way to make their family’s name known in the United States, and they wanted to make products that would help people be more productive. 

They chose to manufacture because they saw it as being a stable industry with high growth potential.


The Essanay Manufacturing Company was a popular film production company in the 1920s and 1930s. 

They were based in Chicago, Illinois, and they produced several silent films starring actors like Gloria Swanson and Charlie Chaplin.

American LaFrance

The American LaFrance Manufacturing Company was founded in 1873 by Truxton Slocum LaFrance. 

The company began manufacturing fire engines and other types of vehicles. In 1874, they produced the first steam fire engine which they named “The American LaFrance”.

They also produced bicycles, lawnmowers, motorcycles, and automobiles under the name American Bicycle Company.

In 1918, The American LaFrance Manufacturing Company acquired another Canadian company called Dominion Fire Engine Works Limited from Sir William Mackenzie’s Toronto Transportation Commission. 

This acquisition allowed them to produce more fire engines than ever before.

The Importance of Fire Extinguishers in Daily Life

Fire extinguishers are one of the most important tools to have in your home or workplace. 

They play a vital role in every company and household.

They can be used to put out small fires or even help you escape from a burning room.

Fire extinguishers are designed to fight fires of all sizes, from small grease fires to large oil tank explosions. 

They contain fire-fighting chemicals that are stored under pressure and released when the unit is activated. 

The pressure releases the chemical into the fire, where it smothers the flames.

There are different types of fire extinguishers and each has its own purpose. There are Class A, B, and C extinguishers for different types of fires:

  • Class A – For ordinary combustible materials such as wood, paper, cloth, or plastics.
  • Class B – For flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, or grease.
  • Class C – For electrical equipment such as wiring or circuit breakers.


Check out what our readers asked the most about a fire extinguisher invention.

How do you date a vintage fire extinguisher?

The best way to date a vintage fire extinguisher is to look for a stamped or printed date on the cylinder body, labeling, or container.

It is possible to see the date stamp under the plastic ring around the neck of an extinguisher or under its boot.

Are old fire extinguishers worth any money?

Old fire extinguishers can be worth around $100-$200 if they’re unrestored soda-acid types, but they might cost less than half this amount depending on the store.

What does the number on the bottom of a fire extinguisher mean?

The number on the bottom of a fire extinguisher indicates how much of the fire can be put out by that specific fire extinguisher.

Which gas is in the fire extinguisher?

Carbon dioxide CO2 is stored in extinguishers as a liquid, and it is converted to gas by the propellant inside.


To sum it up, over 300 years have passed since and many changes have happened in fire extinguisher history. 

Ambrose Godfrey made the first fire extinguisher and was the inventor of this great life-saving device that is so vital today!

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