Tuesday, May 13, 2008

107 YEAR OLD LIGHT BULB STILL BURNING IN CALIFORNIA FIREHOUSE

JOHN M. GLIONNA, LOS ANGELES TIMES - Five years after his retirement, ex-firefighter Tom Bramell still likes to visit Station No. 6 for old times' sake, whistling in amazement at all the changes - the strange faces and slick high-tech engines. But one thing remains exactly the same, and it's what Bramell misses the most about his firefighting days. The sturdy little object hangs from the ceiling in the firehouse's engine bay, emitting its familiar faint orange glow. He calls it the long-lived light bulb of Livermore. That's actually something of an understatement.

At 107 years and counting, the low-watt wonder with the curlicue carbon filament has been named the planet's longest continuously burning bulb by both Guinness World Records and Ripley's Believe It Or Not. . . . The Livermore lightbulb, you see, never gets turned off, which many suspect is the secret to its longevity.

Hanging 18 feet above the floor at the end of a black cloth-covered cord, the little light with the filament the width of a No. 2 pencil lead is unprotected by any lampshade.

Firefighters won't even dust it. Touch it, jokes one captain, and "you get your fingers chopped off."

They guard their light with a surge protector and have a diesel generator and a battery as backups. To them, the bulb is the embodiment of their always-on-duty ethic.

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