|1860 New York City Tenement Fire|
One tenement fire in 1860 made the headlines that caused alarm when people had to jump from the burning building. Fortunately, that particular fire and others like it brought attention to the problem. There was a sharp increase in fire escape inventions during the period 1877-1895.
Thirty-three of the inventions filed were by women.
Anna Connelly's invention was an improvement over the classic fire escape that wound down the side of a building. Her invention allowed people to escape via an "iron railed bridge" that connected adjacent roof tops and buildings. Two trap doors at both ends of the bridge made access easy.
|The diagram in the patent|
|An example of how it worked|
Anna's invention led to the first building codes ever established in New York City, which stated that a second means of escape in a fire was mandatory. The fire escape did not require remodeling of the building, so it was very cost effective, and helped fire fighters get water to the fire faster. The new fire escape also had staircases with platforms between levels, preventing people from falling.
Anna's invention was not the first fire escape patent filed. In 1766 another patent had been filed for a much cruder set-up involving a pulley system with a wicker basket, whereas Anna's fire escape with all its improvements, became the prototype for the modern fire escape we know today. Thousands of lives have been saved as a result.
Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl