Those of you who are true fire history buffs will know this of course, as will most fire science students.....


By Glenn Demby

The first electric fire alarm, patented on this date in 1857

Most of you have probably never heard of William Channing and Moses Farmer. But if you’re a safety professional, you should know who they were — or at least what they did. Channing and Farmer invented the first electric fire alarm.

They came from Boston, which like other American cities in the early 19th century, relied on volunteers to fight fires. Citizens were instructed to shake wooden rattles to signal fires and summon help. The system was, to say the least, imperfect. Even when the rattlings could be heard, it often took precious minutes to determine where in the city they originated.

In 1845, Channing proposed a solution: a centralized and coordinated fire alarm system running on electro-magnetic power. He called it the “Morse Telegraph for Fire Alarms.” In 1851, Channing and Moses pitched the idea of a municipal fire alarm system to the Mayor of Boston. It involved the creation of 26 signal stations and 19 alarm stations throughout the City under the control of a Central Office. Boston bought the proposal and became the first American city to establish an alarm system.

In addition to saving countless lives, Channing and Moses got rich after receiving a patent on their invention on this date in 1857.