December 17, 1884 – Fighting Oil Field Fires with Cannons
“Oil Fires, like Battles, are fought by Artillery” is the catchy phrase in a New England magazine.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology publishes its firsthand account of the problem of lightning strikes in America’s growing number of oil fields – and the technology used to extinguish burning oil tanks. MIT not only reports on the fiery results of an oil field lightning strike, but also the practice of using artillery to fight such conflagrations.
“A Thunder-Storm in the Oil Country” explains that “it is usually desirable to let (oil) out of the tank to burn on the ground in thin layers; so small cannon throwing a three inch solid shot are kept at various stations throughout the region for this purpose.”
Today, several oil patch community museums have a cannon on exhibit to educate visitors about this early firefighting technology, especially in the Great Plains, where frequent lightening strikes caused oil tank fires. Oil patch museums in Seminole and Bartlesville, Oklahoma, include cannons to educate visitors about this early fire-fighting technology. Read more in “Oil Field Artillery.” Read the rest of this entry »