Fire Safety 1828

Giovanni Aldini (1762-1834), Habillement du pompier pour le préserver de l’action de la flamme. Par le Chev. Jean Aldini. Et instruments mis à l’exposition publique honorés d’une médaille en or par le Gouvernement L. et R. de Milan, le 4 Octobre 1828 (Milan de l’Imprimerie Impériale et Royale, [1828]). Hand colored engraved frontispiece. Graphic Arts Collection GAX N-001774

The Italian physicist Giovanni Aldini (1762-1834) is perhaps best-known for his experiments in galvanism and in lighthouse engineering. With this small pamphlet dated 1828, he introduced a protective suit for firemen lined with cloth soaked in alum for the body and asbestos cloth for the face and hands. The outer layer is made of copper wire gauze. A demonstration of the suit’s effectiveness is captured in this hand colored frontispiece, in which a fireman plunges his body into an open flame. In another print, not in this pamphlet, a firemen conducts a mock rescue using the clothing:

The artist of these scenes has been attributed by one source to the French artist Victor-Philippe-Francois Lemoine-Benoit (1800s):

This short tract is, as Aldini states on p. 15, a forerunner to a larger work which he proposes to publish the following year. This intended work Essai expérimental sur l’art de traverser les flammes et de sauver des personnes et des objets préc ieux dans les maisons incendiées was published in 1830 as Art de se préserver de l’action de flamme, with five additional engravings, unfortunately only digitized in black and white:;view=thumb;seq=1OCLC: 1734256