Stupid Invention Of The Week


Stupid invention of the week has to go to a fire alarm that was designed in 1938. The purpose of this alarm was to prevent pranksters setting off the alarm and wasting the fire brigades time.

It works by trapping your arm into the box and you cannot escape until the police or fire brigade let you out.

This means that if there is an actual fire then the person is going to burn to death because of this invention. GENIUS!

stupid invention

  • Aaron

    Pure Genius!

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  • Nice Guy

    Actually, the device itself locks around your wrist like a big handcuff so that you stand out in a crowd with a big hunk of metal on your arm. I have actually seen this device demonstrated in some old film reels.

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  • Hyperduck

    Sooo… what’s to stop you from using a loop of wire or a stick to poke through the hand-hole and trigger the fire alarm (without ever putting your hand in the hole)?

    I mean, seriously — did they actually think that this device would catch any pranksters?

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  • J.Thomas

    While it is obviously stupid to trap someone in a fire, the principle is actually quite a good idea however.

    By that I mean to place a “marker” on who ever sets off the alarm. eg. it could be a small amount of spray paint, or perhaps a brush marker seen only under ultraviolet light, etc. etc.
    This would be invaluable to the police, and the fire services, who are harassed and placed at considerable risk by any false alarm. (eg. traffic accident rushing to a false alarm.)

    I think something like this (a marker system) could easily be adopted by the fire services, conceivably made compulsory for large building alarms, and perhaps even profitable for manufacturers!

    Please send royalties to:
    J.Thomas at

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  • Yert

    Too late, there are fire alarms that paint your arm with paint that doesn’t come off…

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  • Stewart

    A lot of the fire alarms back then weren’t IN buildings. It was common to have a fire alarm box every few blocks.

    I live in an area with a high concentration of old victorian houses, and they didn’t get around to removing the old fire alarm boxes until a few years ago.

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  • Courtney

    it supposed to prevent pranksters from taking away precious time to come to a false alarm but they still have to show up to unlock some idiot anyway..makes no sense.
    and why dont they just reach around the thing to pull the handle??

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  • cody

    u could just put your hand over top or around it duh it makes no sence

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  • luke

    The only problem with this thing: In case of a real fire, you’re stuck in the burning building, waiting who knows how long, stuck to a fire alarm, not being able to crouch down that far to avoid toxic fumes, for a fireman who might have to search the whole building for you. You’re stuck there, with a small chance of living.

    Stupid invention #23

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  • luke

    Actually, J. Thomas, That system is actually used in some buildings suck as schools. When you pull the handle, it sprays ink on your hand, so they can tell who pulled the alarm.

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  • cerber

    i bet that the whole idea is to catch ugly women who trigger fire alarms. the idea is brilliant nevertheless, too bad nobody would bother to trigger the alarm in case of a real fire… congrats to the inventor:D

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  • Isaac

    they could’ve made it where if it had something to detect fire and so if someone pulled the trigger u would be stuck but if it smelled fire or something it would let u go

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  • chris

    smell fire? so you just want to put in a smoke detector?

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  • rcbandit56

    Yes, it’s actually a pretty good idea. These fire alarm boxes were found every few blocks, and if some slow minded looser pulled the alarm because he/she thought they would crap their pants laughing about it, they would be stuck there. Obviously the firemen can’t tell it’s a false alarm from the department, so they rush out and when they find said looser stuck to the alarm, they toss them a bone and let them out, then toss them into some jail time.

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  • Mike

    Let me guess; this is an American invention?

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  • Ryan

    at my school when a fire alarm is pulled there is some black ink that shoots out and get on your hand..
    it only comes off with a certain solvent.

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  • Jynx

    This is brilliant in a way. But somehow, I don’t believe they spent much time thinking about it. Probably, what happened was the supervisor demanded a stop to the pranks and gave these inventors a certain amount of time before handing in the final project. So they just rushed through it without working out the kinks. But never the less, it was a fairly decent idea. Until someone burned to death. Mayhaps they hid the real fire alarm around the corner and used this one as a distraction for the pranksters? Mayhaps?

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  • gaffo in dublin

    dumbass americans, wat if there really was a fire and the person burned to death because their hand was stuck!! FUKIN ASSHLE AMERICANS!!! irelanD made that country, we populated in the 40′s, to bad its turned to a load of BOLLOX wit a load of fatties in the country, and a load of bad ozone emmisions! FATTIES

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    • Frank

      How many whiskeys before this post? LOL

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  • MC

    This entry has won the Homer Simpson Transmundanity Award this week at Culture Kills.

    It comes with a badge/button, but I have absolutely no expectation that you would ever use it Mr. Hunt.

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  • carl

    Do your research. You weren’t attached to the alarm itself, but it detached when the alarm was pulled, so you could walk away. the only way to get it off however, short of a blow torch, was to get the fire brigade to remove it, and when they did i’m sure they incurred a hefty fine too.

    In addition to that, most fire alarms back then weren’t in the buildings, but rather on the streets.

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  • Fred

    Here’s an idea: a fire alarm that sets the person on fire so people will know who triggered it.


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  • Joey

    I cannot beleive the stupidity of some of the comments along with the off the cuff assumptions about the device. The device was used on city fireboxs that were outside, mounted on posts affixed to the sidewalk, found at intersections. There were two at the corner of each intersection opposed diagonally from each other.

    Fire saftey at the time was,”If you see a fire, yell fire as loud as you can and get out. Go to the nearest firebox and call for help. Stay at the firebox to assist the firemen to the location of the fire.”

    To activate the alarm, a person had to reach their hand up inside the cover and turn a knob, or as the called it at the time, a “dial”. When the alarm was activated, a loud bell started ringing and a signal was sent to the station. Reaching inside with a stick or other object to turn a round knob put the pranktser in a time consumming situation.

    It was a different time in our society when the locks were used. These locks were used well into the 50′s. As kids, we knew about the locks, but would always check the fire boxes for “messed up” locks that were broken or had come loose and you could get your hand in without getting caught.

    As a kid, when you set one off, you had to RUN! Because any adult around you that realized what you did would grab you and hold you until the cops got there. Nowadays no one would get involved and besides, we have the 911 system and cell phones.

    Bottom line is, the locks were very effective at stopping kids (me included) from setting off the alarm as a prank. Naming this device as the “stupid invention of the week” is a very funny irony. Stupid is as stupid does? And all the stupid comments are icing on the cake.

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  • neighborcat

    Kudos to Joey for making comment threads the stupidest invention of the week!

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  • Janes

    Here is another stupid invention .

    I saw an invention for building fire safety recently,and I think it is a bit interesting . Would you take a look?
    Do you think it is a crazy idea and the guy is mad ?

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  • Paul Roncallo

    This unit was invented by
    R. Long in the 1930′s . He had 2 patents of course these units were not used in building only a moron would think they were and of course the down side was the person could leave the box with the handcuff and the handcuff an expensive piece of hardware may not be recovered. If anyone knows where any parts to this style door are I would certainly like to know my door is missing the handcuff assembly.

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  • Justin

    Its actually pretty dumb because what if there is a fire and its near the box and they get stuck and by the time the firedapartment gets there there is a dead lumb hanging in the trap with a dead body atached

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  • arsizvideo

    R. Long in the 1930′s . He had 2 patents of course these units were not used in building only a moron would think they were and of course the down side was the person could leave the box with the handcuff and the handcuff an expensive piece of hardware may not be recovered. If anyone knows where any parts to this style door are I would certainly like to know my door is missing the handcuff assembly.

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