THE HERITAGE OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
Benjamin Franklin provides a model of American ingenuity and science that continues to inspire us at ECLE. We share, for example, Franklin's commitment to safety and public service; he founded and served in the Nation's first volunteer fire departments, and the principals of ECLE volunteer to serve in technical committees and standards-writing organizations that continue to improve lightning protection.
While Franklin is credited with inventing the "lightning rod," he actually established the fundamentals of the whole "lightning protection system" that is still used today by connecting lightning rods to the conductors and grounding electrodes that safely transfer what he called "electrical fire" into the earth. He wrote in the 1753 Poor Richard's Almanac that, "A House thus furnished will not be damaged by Lightning, it being attracted* by the Points, and passing thro the Metal into the Ground without hurting any Thing."
* The science of lightning has advanced and we now know that lightning rods do not "attract" lightning strikes, but act as the attachment points of an electrostaticly-charged field. See Rolling Sphere Method for more information.
Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky, by Benjamin West, c. 1816, Philadelphia Museum of Art