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History of Sprinkler systems in US   Part 5
November 16, 2020
History of Sprinkler systems in US
​       Sprinkler systems are closely associated with the fire alarm industry and many fire alarm companies are involved with the sprinkler system; some installing, servicing and testing those systems, but all fire alarm companies monitoring the sprinkler system through water flow or valve openings. Sprinklers are one of the popular fire suppression or fire protective devices and if you provide this service you should be using the Standard Fire Protection All in One.  Like the fire alarm, the first water device to combat fire was the bucket, though I can think of how man may have first figured out how to extinguish a small campsite fire; not practical for a building; hence the bucket and eventually the hose.  While these early "devices" are still available, and even useful, the sprinkler industry has evolved, and here's how and when.
Source:  NFPA
            ... the first automatic arrangement for carrying water through a system of pipes to protect against fire can be traced back as far as 1806 to John Carey of England. This concept eventually found its way to the shores of North America, and credit for the first sprinkler system to be used in the United States belongs to James Bichens Francis. Francis was responsible for a perforated pipe system installed in 1852 at the Plant of the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River in Lowell, Massachusetts.  
            On August 11, 1874, U.S. patent No. 154,076 was obtained by Henry S. Parmelee of New Haven, Connecticut for a sprinkler head, today refered to more simply as a sprinkler. This was a perforated head containing a valve that was held closed against water pressure by a heavy spring made of low fusing material.  Parmelee's invention has even earlier origins, being similar to a device created (though never patented) by Major A. Steward Harrison of the First Engineer London Volunteers in 1864. And the first U.S. patent for a sprinkler system was No. 131,370 issued to Philip W. Pratt of Abington, Massachusetts on September 17, 1872. The system operated by means of a valve to which cords and fuses were attached.  When the cords and fuses melted, the valve opened releasing a stream of water. 
            To further exemplify the evolution of sprinkler technology, some early archival information refers to a litany of sprinkler designs,sprinkler designs, such as the Mackey (1887), the early Grinnells, the Kane (1888), the Neracher (1888), the New York (1889), the Harkness (1890), the Buell (1892), and the National (pre-1900). John Freeman had various tools at his disposal, including a report generated by C. J. H. Woodbury of the Factory Mutual Fire Insurance Companies in 1884.  Woodbury's report would later be considered the first extensive testing of automatic sprinklers, and evaluated the response times of fifteen different types of sprinklers after undergoing a gradual temperature buildup followed by a sudden immersion in steam.
            Henry Parmelee's sprinkler was a device that would eventually become a more focused part of John Freeman's world. Parmelee made arrangements with the Providence Steam and Gas Company to install his systems, and from 1878 to 1882, some 200,000 Parmelee sprinklers were installed in mills mostly located throughout New England. The Providence Steam and Gas Company was owned by Frederic Grinnell of Providence, Rhode Island, who was an individual that would become known in his own time as a true pioneer of this technology. The first Grinnell sprinkler was invented in 1882, and Grinnell systems continued to flourish and become widely recognized. History, as the yardstick that those immersed in the present simply cannot appreciate, would later demonstrate that the paths of John Freeman and Frederic Grinnell would cross with notable significance for the NFPA.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
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