Fire marks, the use of which dates back to the seventeenth century, were affixed to the insured buildings originally to show firemen which buildings were their responsibility in case of a potential fire and only subsequently, a couple of centuries later, did their function become that of advertising the insurance company’s name.
When the first fire insurances policies were drawn up there was in fact no dedicated firefighting public service; Insurance companies therefore took care of this as they were the party most interested in limiting the damages arising from a possible fire.
To this purpose insurance companies had set up private squads of firefighters who were the first ones to intervene to extinguish fires in the buildings insured by the company which employed them. Fire marks – which were almost always made of printed tin plate – had the purpose of identifying whose responsibility it was to extinguish a fire.
The rarity of this collection lies in the fact that this practice has long fallen into disuse; as a consequence these plaques are now increasingly difficult to find.
Club Italiano Collezionisti targhe incendio
The British Fire Marks Circle
New York City Fire Museum
For further information and research use these commands to navigate web pages on fire marks collections.