On 9/17/1872 the first sprinkler system patent was issued to P.W. Pratt of Abington, Massachusetts. The world’s first sprinkler system was installed in the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane in the United Kingdom in 1812 by its architect Benjamen Wyatt, FSA. The system designed by William Congreve consisted of a cylindrical airtight reservoir fed by a 10” water main which branched to all parts of the theatre, with a series of smaller pipes as a distribution system that was pierced with a series of ½” holes. Between 1852 to 1885, perforated pipe systems were used as a means of fire protection. These systems were not automatic. Inventors began experimenting with automatic sprinklers around 1860. The first automatic sprinkler system was patented by Philip W. Pratt of Abington, MA, in 1872. Henry S. Parmalee of New Haven, Connecticut is considered the inventor of the first automatic sprinkler head. Parmalee improved upon Pratt’s patent and created a better sprinkler system. In 1874, Parmalee installed his fire sprinkler system in his piano factory. Frederick Grinnell improved Parmalee’s design in 1881.
On 9/17/1891 a Chicago, Illinois firefighter was fatally injured when he was exposed to nitric acid during a hazardous materials response on Adams Street. A fire alarm was raised after a ten-gallon, glass container of nitric acid began leaking at a photo-engraving company. The firefighter and members of Patrol 1 joined firefighters from Chicago Fire Department Truck 9 at the scene, although none of the responders were aware of the acid’s extreme toxicity. Exposed to the acid for between ten and thirty minutes, thirteen of these responders became ill about five hours later, and one died shortly after midnight.”
On 9/17/1931 a Denver, Colorado firefighter passed away from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.
On 9/17/1923, a wildland fire in northern California threatened the University of California at Berkeley and killed two. “The exact cause of the devastating fire has never been determined, but it began in the dry forests northeast of Berkeley. Strong winds from the east blew cinders into the air and caused the fire to spread rapidly. The red-hot cinders sometimes jumped several houses at a time, resulting in a random pattern of destruction.”
On 9/17/1913 the Hotel Broezel fire in Buffalo, New York injured six after a fire started in a popcorn company at 135 Seneca Street and spread to the hotel “Within a few minutes the third, fourth, and fifth floor of the hotel were ablaze.”
On 9/17/1884 the Grand Avenue fire in Detroit, Michigan destroyed several buildings that started in a planing-mill on High Street between Third and Fourth Streets and extended to Grand River Avenue.