16th September, 1666 – the Great Fire devastated London. Few recorded deaths, but estimates put the destroyed property value at £10,000,000 (£1.5 billion today). From the Great Fire of London rose the world’s first property insurance policy.
In 1680 the first insurance company, the ‘Fire Office’ was founded. Other insurance companies were soon set up. By 1690 one in ten houses in London was insured.
During 1700 insurers realised that it would be cheaper to put out the fires than pay claims. They began to employ their own fire brigades. The insurers created ‘fire mark’ plates in order to identify which houses were insured by each company when the fire brigades arrived. This identification was important as there was no street numbering in 1700s. Insurance companies had reciprocal arrangements with each other.
The insurers realised it would be good to have unified force to watch over London. In 1833 the London Fire Engine Establishment was created. This provided constant ‘attendance day and night’ throughout London.
Thus, insurance gave birth to modern Fire Brigade as we see today!