Tom Scott

Why 18th-Century Firefighters Let Some Buildings Burn

In the 18th century, firefighters weren’t always meant to fight fires. If your building didn’t have a fire mark, they might just let it burn. The reason: fire insurance, and fire insurance companies. [CORRECTION: the plaques on the wall at 1:10 are parish boundary markers, not fire marks! The facts and words in the video are true, but those markers were misidentified in the sources I used. Apologies.]

Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/

SOURCES:
https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/discover/how-great-fire-london-created-insurance
https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lecture/transcript/print/protecting-london-the-phoenix-rebuilding-london-after-the-great-fire-and-the/
https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/4481/1/Miranda%20Clow_thesis_1%20of%202_Text.pdf
https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/museum/history-and-stories/

“No pay, no spray”: https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna39516346
“It’s not reasonable”: https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/it-s-not-reasonable-alta-woman-faces-28-000-bill-from-private-fire-department-1.3566291
Additional stories:
https://abcnews.go.com/Business/fire-department-bills-basic-services-horrify-residents-insurance/story?id=9736696
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/justin-purcell-fire_n_4242734

The Great Fire of London painting via the Museum of London: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Fire_London.jpg

Images licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Fire Mark, 39 Church Trees by Alan Murray-Rust, https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5281610
Fire mark of the Hand in Hand Fire & Life Insurance Society on a house in Loose by Marathon, https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5423230

I’m at https://tomscott.com
on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott
on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott
and on Instagram as tomscottgo

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