5 August 2011
Fire insurance plaques
Back in the early 19th century there was no public fire brigade. Home owners would insure against fires by paying private companies who employed their own fire-fighting teams. Badges made from lead or copper displaying the relevant company logo and reference number were affixed to on the front of houses (usually at first floor level) to prove that fees had been paid. In the case of a fire, these companies would only put out the flames of those houses bearing the correct badge.
This caused all sorts of problems, especially if the fire had started in a non-insured property and spread into the insured house next door, so in January 1833 The London Fire Engine Establishment was formed. In 1865 the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act was passed and by 1904 London had what we now call the London Fire Brigade.