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Fire Hydrant Patent Lost in Patent Office Fire

Frederick Graff Sr., Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia Water Works is credited with the first patent of a fire hydrant system resembling what we have today.

Mr. Graff was smart enough to obtain a patent back in 1801 for his idea of a post or pillar hydrant with valves and faucet functions. Unfortunately there is no official record of his patent since the U.S. patent office, and many patents including this one, were destroyed in a fire in 1836.

Mr. Graff revolutionized fire-fighting with his modernized hydrant system. Previous fight-fighting solutions included water filled cauldrons, underground tanks, pipes just under the ground with a wood plug at the surface, and no water system at all.

the fire hydrant

It’s safe to say that his upright hydrant design that is easy to use and withstands all types of weather can be credited for saving buildings, lives, and probably entire cities-but unfortunately not the U.S. patent office in 1836.


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