By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
Sometimes in our travels we are lucky enough to get inside barns. Often the barns have been cleaned up, and sometimes it’s like the farmer walked out of the barn one day and never went back.
One of the most interesting finds inside any of the barns we’ve visited were old fire grenades. These grenades were some of the first fire extinguishers. They were glass bulbs that were filled with a liquid. This type of fire extinguisher was manufactured for 40 years, from 1870 to 1910.
The bulbs came with a holder to be hung on the wall. They could be grabbed from the holder and thrown at the fire. The liquid inside would help to deprive the fire of oxygen. The bulbs were only helpful for small fires, or to gain a few minutes of time until other help arrived. Since these bulbs were for one-time use and very fragile, few have survived.
Considering the age of the bulbs, we were surprised to find any intact inside the barns we have visited.
As always, we are happy to find these historic items and buildings, often hiding in plain sight.