Who Invented the Fire Hydrant?

Fire hydrants give quicker access to water which in turn lead to quicker extinguishing of fires.
Fire hydrants give quicker access to water which in turn lead to quicker extinguishing of fires.

A fire hydrant is a connection that enables firefighters to have an access to water from a water source. With an aid of a fire hydrant, the access to water is made even easier, which in turn leads to a quicker extinguishing of the fire. It is also referred to as a fire pump, or simply a pump. The fire hydrants may be installed on the ground or underground. There are two types of fire hydrants: the wet barrel fire hydrant and the dry barrel fire hydrant. The wet barrel sustains a constant supply of water. For the dry barrel, a valve has to be released before water flows into the barrel.

Before the Invention of the Fire Hydrant

Prior to the invention of fire hydrants, firefighters used brigade buckets or pumped water physically from the source to extinguish the fires. The firefighters would stand in line between the fire and the source of water. They would then pass the buckets of water from one firefighter to the next. The process continued until the fire got extinguished. This turned out to be hectic and tiresome. Besides, it was also very slow, a reason that led to fires consuming more property.

Invention of the Fire Hydrant

It should be noted that the real inventor of fire hydrants is not known. The patents that were related to the invention of the fire hydrant in Philadelphia were destroyed. There are different stories behind the destruction of the patents. Some people say that they were burnt when the building caught fire. Some people believed that they were lost during a dispute, and finally, some people believe that they were destroyed during a flood. The most popular reason given for the lost patents is the fire that burnt down the building that was housing the patents. Because the records were not clear or known to people, the invention of the fire hydrant is attributed to Frederick Graff.

At around 1801, Mr. Frederick Graff Sr. who was the then Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia Water Works came up the first post or pillar type of fire hydrants. Graff was born in 1775. Before his job at the Philadelphia Water Works, Graff worked as a carpenter. Graff was still in his twenties when he developed the first fire hydrant. He is therefore credited for the invention of fire hydrants. The fire hydrant he designed was described to be that of a “wet barrel” design. It was composed of a faucet with a valve on top of it. However, it should be noted that there is no further evidence indicating that Graff was the first person to develop the fire hydrants. The credit is given to him simply because of the destruction of the patents.

Developments that Followed

The inventor of the modern fire hydrant cannot be traced because of the tremendous developments and upgrading that followed the pioneer fire hydrant. All the modern fire hydrants had inspirations from the pioneer fire hydrants.

The first fire hydrants were wooden. The water pipes in the Philadelphia Water Works were also wooden. The fire hydrant developed by Frederick Graff is nothing similar to the current fire hydrants we know today. Graff’s hydrant had a hose and a faucet outlet with a barrel design that had a valve on top.


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