Beginning in the 1750s, some American insurance companies issued metal fire marks to policyholders to signify that their property was insured against fire damage. The fire marks bore the name and/or symbol of the insurer, and some included the customer’s policy number. The company or agent would then affix the mark to the policyholder’s home or business. For owners the mark served as proof of insurance and a deterrent against arson. For insurance companies the mark served as a form of advertising, and alerted volunteer firefighters that the property was insured.
The Fire Association of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania issued this cast iron fire mark in 1867. The Fire Association’s fire mark consisted of a raised image of an early fire hydrant with hose attached, flanked by the letters F.A. in the center of an oval. The F.A. adopted a fireplug as their symbol to celebrate the contribution of Philadelphia's innovative public water system to their mission of fighting fire. The Fire Association of Philadelphia was an insurance company founded in 1817 by a group of eleven volunteer engine companies and five volunteer hose companies. A percentage of the Fire Association’s insurance company’s profits were distributed to the volunteer companies. The F.A. fire mark was extremely popular, and an estimated 40,000 fire marks were issued during the company’s history. The Fire Association operated until 1958, when it merged with the Reliance Insurance Company of Philadelphia.
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