LIVERMORE'S centennial light facts



  • Age: 110 years and counting (as of June 2011)
  • Installed: First installed at the fire department hose cart house on L Street in 1901. Shortly after it moved to the main firehouse on Second. In 1903 it was moved to the new Station 1 on First and McLeod, and survived the renovation of the Firehouse in 1937, when it was off for about a week. During it's first 75 years it was connected directly to the 110 Volt city power, (subject to the power outages) , and not to the back-up generator for fear of a power surge. In 1976 it was moved with a full police and fire truck escort, under the watch of Captain Kirby Slate, to its present site in 1976 at Fire Station 6, 4550 East Ave., Livermore, California. It was then hooked to a seperate power source at 120V according to Frank Maul, Retired City Electrician, with no interuptions since.
  • Proof of Longevity: From local newspaper records; also GE engineers researched it. Was donated to the Fire Department in 1901 by Dennis Bernal who owned the Livermore Power and Light Co.
  • Vital Statistics: The improved incandescent lamp, invented by Adolphe A. Chaillet, was made by the Shelby Electric Company. It is a handblown bulb with carbon filament. Wattage- Began at 60 watts, currently shines at 4 watts. Left burning continuously in firehouse as a nightlight over the fire trucks. For some research test results on another Shelby bulb at Annapolis follow this link.
  • Recognition: Declared the oldest known working lightbulb by Guinness Book of World Records. Ripley's Believe-It-or-Not in 1972 researched it and declared it the oldest. Charles Kurault of the TV program "On the Road with Charles Kurault" visited the bulb in the 1970s and included it in his book as well. Declarations from the President of the U.S., Congress, Senate, State Senate and Assembly, and Shelby Ohio.In 2007 it was again recognized in Guiness, and Ripleys books.
  • Closest Competitors: The Second longest bulb was listed in the 1970 Guinness Book under the heading Most Durable says that "on 21 Sept 1908 a stagehand named Barry Burke at the Byers Opera House, Fort Worth, Texas screwed in a new light bulb and that it was still burning". The building was renamed the Palace Theatre, and the light was known as the Palace Bulb ever since. It now resides in the Stockyards Museum, and will have been burning for 100 years Sept of 2008. A website is in the works.
    The Third, a bulb in a New York City hardware store, Gasnick Supplies, had been working since 1912, but it is unknown if it still works today.
    The Fourth is known as "the bulb" which like ours, burns in a firehouse in the town of Mangum, Oklahoma. It has been in operation since around 1926, has no special power conversions, and is turned on and off with normal use.
    The Fifth was a bulb in a washroom at the Martin & Newby Electrical Shop in Ipswich, England was dated from 1930 and burned out in January 2001.
    For more info on these follow this link to Roadside America, or Wikipedia.
  • Future Plans: The City of Livermore and the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department intend to keep the bulb burning as long as it will. They have no plans at present what to do with the bulb if or when it does burn out. Ripley's has requested it for their museum.
  • Visiting: You can visit the bulb depending on the availability of the Firemen on hand. Go to the rear of the station and ring the bell. If they are in someone will answer the door. Otherwise you can see the bulb if you look through the window up on the top of the wall to your left. To contact them directly you may call the LPFD at (925) 454-2361.
  • Celebration: We commemorated its centennial on Friday, June 8, 2001 at the fire station. Please see the celebration gallery for all the pictures.
    Plans are now in the works for the 110th birthday party on June 18, 2011.
For more information about the bulb, contact the Lightbulb Centennial Chairman Lynn Owens at (925) 447-9477, Webmaster Steve Bunn at (510) 538-8207, or email

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