In my many walks in Old Town, I began noticing plaques mounted on houses which seemed fire department related. Although very little information is available about the early history of the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department, I did find some interesting historical facts about early fire fighting and fire insurance.
Fire brigades were originally created by insurance companies to help protect the property of their policyholders and thereby limit their own liability. Policyholders were given a plaque, or fire mark, that would be mounted in a prominent position on the building to denote its protected status. Click here for the history of firemarks. Additional information at Wikipedia and Firehouse.com.
This fire mark shows a very early style hand pump fire truck. Most fire marks are around nine inches high or about eight inches in diameter.