Fire Plaques

If you look carefully, you will notice that downtown historic structures occasionally have a metal plaque next to the door.

Fire Marks

The one shown below is at 111 Main Street, the former residence of John Vowles, dating to the 1820s. These metal plaques were provided by fire insurance companies as a proof of purchase. If the home (and all of its papers) burned down, the plaque would remain to prove that the homeowner had purchased insurance. Ingenious. Who can say in today’s high tech world whether any file (electronic or paper) would survive a house fire ? The mark shown here is from the Fire Association Of Philadelphia. Visit an external site to view some of the images from other insurance companies.

Fire Marks - Where’s Waldo ?

And then keep your eyes peeled when you’re walking downtown. They are rare, but several buildings have these marks….can anyone find the one below ? Hint: the color surrounding the plaque is from the color of the front porch of the house. Although it won’t help you find it, the image identifies the mark as belonging to the Firemen’s Insurance Company, Baltimore, Maryland. This particular policy was issued c. 1835 and contains a wonderful drawing of an old-fashioned water pump.