Tuesday Trivia – Fire Marks

August 1, 2017
In the 18th and 19th centuries, insurance companies maintained their own fire brigade services that looked after the risks each company insured.

In return for a fee or subscription, the insurance company would provide cast iron or lead plaques of the company’s distinctive logo or brand, to be placed above a door lintel, indicating that the property was insured and therefore the owner covered in the event of fire.

These fire brigades would often only attend fires at the properties of “their insured risks”, raising some interesting questions as to what would happen if a fire brigade arrived to find the building on fire was not insured by its own company.

The use of Fire Marks have long gone out of fashion however you may be familiar with the Fire Services Levy which until recently (in Victoria at least), has been charged on all property insurances. This funding of metropolitan and rural fire services is a remnant of the old Fire Insurance Mark system.

The Fire Marks themselves are now highly valuable and considered quite collectable – if you’re lucky enough to find one!

The Fire Mark of the Phoenix Insurance Company (unconfirmed)