In the seventeenth century, after large parts of London and other cities had been destroyed by fire, insurance companies started to offer policies to protect home owners against losing their property. What I had not realised until I read it in my newly acquired book The British Costume, was that an early version of the modern Fire Brigade originated when these insurance companies started to employ men to walk around town looking for fires. The guy in the illustration below was employed by The Sun, a fire insurance company set up in 1710. When you took out a policy you were given a badge, or fire mark, to affix to your building. If a fire started, the Fire Brigade was called. They looked for the fire mark and, provided it was the right one, the fire would be dealt with. Often buildings were left to burn until the right company attended!