What is a Fire Mark?

Fire Marks were prevalent more than 100 years ago in this country. These small emblems were made of metal that could withstand a fire, and they were placed on buildings—usually on the front where they could be seen. They simply meant that you had paid for your fire insurance, and they acted as a mini advertisement for the insurance company. Fire Marks, also known as insurance company marks, were fairly widespread from about 1750 to 1900.

What’s interesting to note is that fire brigades were often owned by insurance companies, although that was certainly not always the case. Consequently, some people believed that the fire brigade would only respond to a fire if the property was being protected by the insurance company that owned the fire brigade. Today we know that was probably not the case. There is no evidence to the fact that structures were allowed to burn. In fact, volunteer fire departments got their support from other means, including community donations. If anything, the Fire Mark may have indicated that there was a potential reward for saving the structure. Or, it was simply a form of advertisement.

Image from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fire_mark_Dulwich.jpg

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