Another that Stumped the Mythbuster


Here is a myth that a blog reader submitted. I can’t find anything about it. Help, anyone?

Pie Tin Fire Alarms
 “I’m trying to track down information on another early “alarm” system said to detect fires sort of like a smoke alarm. The story goes that pie tins were secured to ceilings by wax. The heat from a growing fire would melt the wax, causing the tins to drop to the floor and make enough noise to awaken the residents. Securing such tins to ceilings throughout a room would have been unsightly, but the concept makes some sense. In addition, blazes caused by untended fireplaces and early wooden chimneys were a serious problem in colonial times. Do you have any research to document or debunk the use of “pie-tin fire alarms”? (Researching a third edition of my History of Alarm Security book.)” 
Sounds ridiculous to me, but I cannot back that up.

7 Responses to Another that Stumped the Mythbuster

  1. James "Jake" Pontillo says:

    Enough heat to melt the wax and drop the pie pans would be hot enough to almost engulf the building. It is definitely not a practical early warning alarm. It does not make any sense.

  2. Ella Aderman says:

    There were fire suppression/extinguishers at the turn of the century [1900] that had glass balls filled with water or carbon tetracloride that had a wax plug which when it melted because of a fire below, would then cause the liquid to dispurse, and theoretically put out the fire. We have some at our historic site.

  3. Anne Foster says:

    This sounds like someone saw a stovepipe flue cover, didn’t know what it was, and tried to come up with an explanation.

  4. Deborah Brower says:

    Makes no sense to me either.

  5. Joe Greeley says:

    Easy test-get a pie tin and try and get it to stick to the ceiling with wax. I’m pretty sure the chances of it working are close to zero. This is surely one of the silliest things I’ve ever heard of . . . 😉

  6. Kit says:

    This sounds silly to me, too, and rather confused. When was this alarm system supposed to have been in use? When were tin pie plates invented? Seems unlikely to me that a frugal housewife would waste money by sticking pie tins to the ceiling–to say nothing of how awful it would look. Kit

  7. Brian Cannon says:

    With 40+ years as a firefighter and fire-related collector, I’ve never seen or heard anything close to this. Sounds like someone’s trying to start a new myth.

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