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There’s a light bulb in Livermore, California that won’t go out. It hangs on a bond from the beam of the Livermore-Pleasanton Blaze Department’s Blaze Base #6, and it has been afire aback 1901. On June 27, 2015, there was a affair captivated in the bulb’s account to bless its one millionth hour of operation. There were refreshments and music and barbecue. Town admiral broiled the bulb’s achievement. The ablaze bulb, for its part, austere over everyone’s heads, like it consistently does.
About an hour east of San Francisco, Livermore sits in a basin amidst by rolling hills fabricated gold by the drought. The blaze base is on East Avenue, and ball tourists like myself charge airing about aback and arena the doorbell to get let in. Inside, blaze engines and accessories boss the space. The baby ball hangs about twenty anxiety overhead, aglow abreast a row of beaming boutique lights which, clashing the bulb, were angry off. If it weren’t for the camera acicular anon at it (to advertisement a alive web stream), the ball would be accessible to miss.
To be an on-duty firefighter at Livermore-Pleasanton Blaze Base #6 agency you accept to both action fires and accord absolute light bulb tours at a moment’s notice. The two firemen who hosted me said I was the additional aggregation of the day. Some canicule they accept huge groups who arise in—groups that accept been accepted to agglomeration beneath the ball and bore crane-necked at it until the firemen get an emergency call. They again accept to affably shoo the tourists alfresco while they accessory up to leave the station, sirens blaring. These visitors will sometimes still be continuing alfresco aback the firefighters return, cat-and-mouse to get let aback in to attending at the ball some more.
Manufacturer: Shelby Electric Aggregation in Shelby, Ohio (est. 1896, out of business 1912).
Manufacture date: c. 1898.
Designer: French electrical architect Adolphe A. Chaillet (b. Nov 1867, d. ~1914).
Filament: Carbon, fabricated by a “secret process” that is still alien today. The fiber forms a bend axial the ball that, from below, looks like the chat “no” accounting in cursive.
Wattage: The ball is anticipation to be a 60-watt archetypal (actual amount unknown), but it currently burns at about four watts.
Is it still on?: Yes.
Much of this advice (and the advice that follows) is from A Million Hours of Service, a book about the ball accounting by Thomas Bramell, Livermore’s retired Deputy Blaze Chief and foremost historian of the bulb. It is for auction at the blaze station, forth with ball T-shirts and added ball memorabilia. (Proceeds go to the Livermore-Pleasanton Firefighters Foundation, a non-profit that supports afflicted and collapsed firefighters, the bake foundation, and added charities.)
The bulb’s accepted residence.
The ball had been afire afterwards abundant alarum for 71 years afore Mike Dunstan, a anchorman for the Livermore Herald and News, starting allurement about about it in 1972. Through interviews, Dunstan was able to affirm the bulb’s longevity.
The ball was acceptable accustomed to the blaze administration in 1901 as a allowance from bounded agent Dennis F. Bernal. One of Bernal’s accouchement recalled to Dunstan that her ancestor had accustomed abroad a backing of business and claimed items in 1901 and that this stash apparently included the bulb. Older association remembered casual the blaze base and seeing the ball during walks to and from academy in the aboriginal 1900s. John Jensen, a aloft advance firefighter who served in Livermore in 1905, said he recalled the ablaze actuality on at all times as far aback as he can remember. Because it formed as a array of emergency ablaze to advice firefighters see at any time of the day, the ball was never angry off.
The ablaze has been afire so continuously, the few instances aback it has been angry off can be printed on a baby bookmark:
1906: The ball was confused from a blaze abode on Additional Street in Livermore to a new blaze base on First Street.
1937: The ball was angry off for about a anniversary aback the base underwent renovations that were allotment of a WPA project.
1976: The ball was confused to the anew congenital Blaze Base #6. It was off for about 22 account during that move, additional a few abnormal afterwards it was installed and wouldn’t work. (City electrician Frank Moul hardly rotated the bulb’s atrium switch, afterlight the problem.)
May 20, 2013: The ball went out in the aboriginal morning hours aback its ceaseless ability accumulation malfunctioned. A man in Australia watching on the ball web cam noticed the abeyance and aimlessly approved to get in blow with the fire station from the added ancillary of the Pacific Ocean. The ball anguish up actuality off for about nine hours.
To fix it, firefighters bypassed the ceaseless ability accumulation with an addendum cord. Worryingly, it austere about four times as ablaze as accustomed aback it was angry aback on, adopting fears that it was about to billow out. Over the abutting few days, however, it alternate to its accustomed accuracy level, which is to say about as ablaze as an agitable nightlight.
1: Consistency: Matt, one of the firefighters who showed me the bulb, tossed out this approach (which he articular as “a theory,” acceptation that it is in no way definitive). As declared above, the ball has been angry off and on so infrequently that the fiber has austere at
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