Historic firefighting equipment makes debut at Bryant Cottage

By Matt Metcalf | mmetcalf@wcia.com

Published 03/20 2014 05:33PM

Updated 03/21 2014 11:34AM

BEMENT -- In the 21st Century, we have regularly-staffed fire departments in larger towns and a network of well-organized volunteers in the rural areas. But in the 19th Century, fire could be devastating, wiping out homes and even city blocks before help could arrive. Fire was a constant worry during the days when open flames provided a building’s heat and light.

So inventors came up with an array of fire-fighting devices, many of which will be on display at the Bryant Cottage State Historic Site in March. Some of a small glass sphere filled with saltwater were probably ineffective Others were downright dangerous, such as a small glass sphere filled with noxious chemicals. But each one was a step toward the abundance of extinguishers available today!

The display is part of a yearlong exhibition of devices from the age of kerosene.

Public hours at Bryant Cottage are Thursday-Sunday, 9am-5pm. For more information, call them at (217) 678-8184 or visit their web site: http://www.illinois.gov/ihpa/experience/sites/central/pages/bryant-cottage

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