Insurance Fire Brigades

After the Great Fire of London in 1666, it was the Insurance Companies who looked at how they could organize fire protection in order to reduce their insurance pay outs resulting from the many outbreaks of fire. The ‘Fire Office’ insurance company in fact, formed the first Insurance Fire Brigade in 1680, followed by many Insurance Fire Brigades being established throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. These developed and continued to be the primary source of fire protection until the formation of the London Fire Engine establishment in 1833 after which the number of Insurance gradually reduced in favour of the growing number of those operated by Local Authorities. The last Insurance Brigade was operated by the Norwich Union in Worcester, until it was disbanded in 1929, ending some 249 years of Insurance Company fire protection. The last call ever attended by an Insurance Fire Brigade occurred in Worcester on 25 February 1929 when a fire involving two thatched rook cottages was attended. The following week the Brigade was disbanded, by which time they were operating a 1924 motor pump and a Merryweather ‘Fire King’ self-propelled steam fire engine.