Throughout history man has harnessed fire as an energy source, but man has also fought a war against fires destructive nature. To protect the population it was necessary to fight fires positively, so a firefighting force emerged and has evolved throughout the centuries into the modern fire service.
The first organized fire brigade was born during the rule of the Roman Empire. The first attempts to produce a firefighting force, using slaves all failed until a fire destroyed nearly a quarter of Rome during the reign of Emperor Augustus. After this disaster Emperor Augustus formed the first fire brigade called the ‘Corps of Vigiles’, however the fall of Rome marked the end of the ‘Corps of Vigiles’.
Britain got its first organized fire brigade in 43AD when the Romans invaded, after they left Britain’s first fire brigade disbanded.
In 1066 the Normans invaded Britain and introduced the first basic fire safety laws. However it wasn’t until September 1666 when the Great Fire of London destroyed 436 acres of London that it became apparent that an effective firefighting force was required.
After the Great Fire of London, fire insurance companies began to appear, but they soon discovered that large fires were bad for business and soon they began to establish their own fire brigades to improve profit margins.
At this point fire marks were introduced, people would fix these lead or copper insignia to the wall of their houses to show which insurance company they were with. When a fire broke out all the fire brigades would rush to the fire, if the house did not have their company’s fire mark they would stand back and wait for the rival company’s firefighters to turn up. If the house did not have a fire mark and there was more than one company on the scene, a fight often broke out as the competing companies tried to get the householder to sign up with their company.