Obed DeChamp Firefighter/inventor

Obed DeChamp was born and raised in Shelburne Nova Scotia on December 27, 1867. The son of George and Mary DeChamp, he migrated south sometime around late 1891 and settled on Ferry Street in Everett. In order to support himself, Obed listed himself as a carpenter in the city directories as early as 1892.

In 1893, he married Annie J. McKinnon of Everett via Prince Edward Island. The couple lived for a while on Broadway in North Everett before settling on Wilbur Street.

While working as a carpenter, Obed noticed the problems that people had with closing their shutters especially during inclement weather.  Obed sought a way to make it possible to close the shutters from inside the house and on November 25th, 1894, he was granted a patent for his Shutter-Worker that, according to the application, “… relates to improvements in shutter or blind workers of that class in which the shutter or blind is turned upon its hinges from the inside of the window to open or close said shutter or blind without necessitating the opening of the window.” In order to forward his pattern application, he assigned fifty-percent of the rights to a local engineer Andrew D. Nichols.

In March of 1904, Obed was granted his second patent. This invention was far more complicated and truly displayed his advancement in the understanding of the mechanics of various engines and objects. This patent was for “… improvements in rotary engines, and has for its object to construct a compact, simple, and effective duplex 1 engine which may be made compound or plain, as desired and at a very slight difference in the cost of manufacture.”

By 1906, Obed was a hoseman for the Everett Fire Department and with his new job came new ideas. As a firefighter, Obed De Champ, once again would show his ingenuity inventing a device for automatically opening the doors of the new central fire station, to be all operated at once, enabling the horses to leave their stalls immediately upon the first stroke of an alarm. It operated electrically, with a magnet control, and could be switched off so that the doors can be opened manually. Another invention was a device to automatically turn on all the lights in the station at the first stroke of an alarm, permitting the station to remain lighted until the apparatus left the building, at which time the lights automatically extinguished.

In 1909, when the City of Everett sought to replace its outdated and malfunctioning fire whistle, it was seeking to save money and space while still providing a proper alarm.  The old compressed air whistles that had been previously depended upon were the type that some large factory buildings had employed and a new one would cost about $2,500 and would take up a large space for the four storage tanks required. The City turned to Obed DeChamp, who created an electric whistle. The one prepared by Capt. De Champ for use in Everett worked somewhat upon the plan of a telephone receiver. It used diaphragms about 10 in. in diameter and was made up of eight sections. Each section contained a diaphragm and is a complete whistle in itself, only giving less volume than the whole eight sections together. When in position, the working parts were encased in a cylindrical galvanized iron covering open at the top, designed to provide great volume. It was the only whistle of its kind in the country. Capt. De Champ’s invention cost $10 to make complete, thus saving the city $2,490. He gave it to the city at cost. He did, however sell them to other communities for considerably more.

In 1911, DeChamp under, the name of the DeChamp Electrical Company, was granted a patent for a Fire-Alarm System that included multiple call boxes and a system for identifying the box from which the alarm was struck.

An innovative, creative and resourceful public employee who used his talents for the benefit of his department and for public safety everywhere, Captain Obed DeChamp retired after 35 years in the Everett Fire Department and passed away in Everett in 1936.

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