27 October 2014

Firefighters' rescue masks - updated

From France "between the mid-1800s and World War I."

I see adapters designed to fit onto some type of tubing, presumably leading either to fresh (?compressed) air since an oxygen source would have been exponentially risker to a firefighter.  

Via Not In The History Books

Addendum:  A tip of the blogging hat to reader Aleksejs, for sending me a link to the Firefighting Museum in Riga, Latvia and to this photo of a complete similar-type outfit from the same era:


  1. Somebody has to do it. Do these remind anyone else of a certain SF movie? Say a talkative robot and a villain who wears a black headpiece/mask?

    1. Probably where Hollywood got the idea.....

  2. I have a friend who used to be a firefighter in the UK. I asked him about these masks and this is what he said:

    "I've seen them many a time and coveted them. They were the forerunner of modern breathing apparatus and allowed firefighters to enter smoke filled buildings to rescue people and fight the fire from within. They were connected to leather pipes that the firefighter had to drag behind them while at the other end was a pump, like a huge set of bellows, that other firefighters pumped to supply fresh air.
    To buy one in fair condition, complete with bellows, costs about $2500 and up!"

    1. Thank you, Margaret. That's exactly what I wanted to know.

  3. Replies
    1. Yes. Walking into a fire wearing equipment containing oxygen is riskier than using equipment containing air.

    2. Pure oxygen can very rapidly oxidize... that is burn. Having pure oxygen in a burning environment is the same as bringing in more fuel for the fire. A normal breathing air mixture still provides oxygen to the fire but is less volatile.

  4. Here is a photo from Firefighting museum in Riga, Latvia:
    Breathing apparatus “Kenig-If” with lead and bellows, produced by company “Langensiefen & Co”; St.Petersburg, beginning of the 20th century

    Other nice things in gallery:


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