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TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2016
 

100 YEAR OLD LIGHT BULB

LILIAN

Science & Technology

Today you'll find a remarkable light bulb burning bright at a fire station in Livermore, California. It hasn't been turned off since 1901.

The Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley's Believe It Or Not and General Electric agree the bulb, of unknown wattage, is the longest-living in history, despite two moves and a few power outages during its lifetime.

The bulb was donated to the department in 1901 by Dennis Bernal, a pioneer in the area who owned the Livermore Power and Light Co. It was hung as a night light in a downtown garage that served as both a police and fire department five years before the great San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906. A few years later, the bulb found its way to the "new" pre-Depression City Hall that also housed the two departments and twenty-odd years ago was moved for a final time to Station One in Livermore.

Successive fire chiefs have regarded it as their talisman. "Nobody wants that darn bulb to go out on their watch," says fire chief Gary Stewart. "If that thing goes out while I'm still chief it will be a career's worth of bad luck."

Previous chiefs have had standing orders that if any firefighter, for whatever reason, accidentally broke the light, that person would suddenly find plenty of time to update his résumé.


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