Why 18th-Century Firefighters Let Some Buildings Burn

Tom Scott

818 t. näkymät26

    In the 18th century, firefighters weren't always meant to fight fires. If your building didn't have a fire mark, they might just let it burn. The reason: fire insurance, and fire insurance companies. [CORRECTION: the plaques on the wall at 1:10 are parish boundary markers, not fire marks! The facts and words in the video are true, but those markers were misidentified in the sources I used. Apologies.]
    Filmed safely: www.tomscott.com/safe/
    "No pay, no spray": www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna39516346
    "It's not reasonable": www.ctvnews.ca/canada/it-s-not-reasonable-alta-woman-faces-28-000-bill-from-private-fire-department-1.3566291
    Additional stories:
    The Great Fire of London painting via the Museum of London: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Fire_London.jpg
    Images licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
    Fire Mark, 39 Church Trees by Alan Murray-Rust, www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5281610
    Fire mark of the Hand in Hand Fire & Life Insurance Society on a house in Loose by Marathon, www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5423230
    I'm at tomscott.com
    on Twitter at tomscott
    on Facebook at tomscott
    and on Instagram as tomscottgo

    Julkaistu 2 kuukautta sitten


    1. Tom Scott

      This video has a correction! The plaques on the wall at 1:10 are parish boundary markers, not fire marks. The words and story in the video are still true, but those markers were misidentified in the sources I used. You can find fire marks elsewhere in London, the UK, and the world. Apologies!

      1. Jun Ian


      2. Matthew Seymour

        Making mistakes....... And you explicitly said we couldn't trust you.

      3. Benji Smith

        You are forgiven

      4. Suman S

        @sumreen Sultana Woah! Which city, my dude?

      5. Gordon Le Pard

        No, still untrue. The insurance companies firemen did not refuse to put out fires in uninsured buildings.

    2. Darren Burgess

      Capitalism vs Socialism

    3. Kostany

      I came here from your drum drop from 2009. Will be one of my main channels now I guess, especially with this knowledge

    4. Shaunak Gokhale

      I thought the answer would be something scientific, like because it stops the fire spreading, but turns out no.. just capitalism 😂

    5. Lucifer, CEO of Hell

      AFAB. All firefighters are bastards!

    6. K1r5ch1

      In Germany manny anal Villages don't have the money for a fire Department so they have something call the Volunteer firefighter and most yung people are in it cause you have party's and are well respected

    7. Fuck Google

      But government bad bro 😭😭

    8. Enoxitus

      *several groups of firefighters rush to the scene* every single one of them: *checks fire mark* "Wrong fire mark. Looks like a family of 7 including children and 2 dogs are going to die. What a tragedy. Anyways..."

    9. RT Garbage

      This may seem insane, but Americans still have to pay a bill for using an ambulance. In some cases it’s cheaper (though certainly not safer) to just rush the injured or sick to the hospital in a normal vehicle.

    10. Sam Erens

      Imagine how much it would suck if you paid for a fire mark, only to have it obscured by flames and/or debris during an actual fire.

    11. Autumn Rain

      dude hahaa stoppp you're going to give the united states bad ideas

    12. od skrajności w skrajność

      capitalism be like:

    13. Riley Carpenter


    14. ccityplanner12 :

      I wonder if there were more expensive insurance companies that would put out neighbouring houses to stop the fire spreading to yours & cheaper insurance companies that would only come if your house specifically was on fire.

    15. Josh Derak

      Reminds me of health insurance.

    16. Super Sophisticated

      The answers for everything bad is always capitalism

    17. Rhubartu the Saiyan

      They still do.. i watched a house a couple streets over go from almost fully intact with some smoke coming out, to completely burned down with nothing left but some half burnt lumber and a couple mattresses. The firefighters were there the entire time, but they were helping the house burn down by creating holes in the roof and it wasn't until the house was almost fully burned down did they start using water on it..

    18. James Charles

      horrible historieeeeeeeeees

    19. 181cs033 Ananthu


    20. 1973Washu

      The country town I used to live in had a fire brigade of volunteers and an engine paid for by raffles.

    21. Falbere!

      firefighters: finally we put out the fire. inspector: wait, there is no mark on that house. firefighters: welp. *lights torches*

    22. Jalapeno Serrano

      Encyclopedias: bore me to death Shakespeare: shake my spear

    23. RRP

      I heard the monument is not where the fire started but if was laid on its side from that point the top would mark pudding lane where the fire is believed to have started

    24. HauntedShadowsLegacy

      2:25 "It took death and destruction to move things forward." Sadly, it still takes death and destruction to move things forward. And the daily, hum drum death isn't enough, either. Not unless we're talking about progress in highly-regulated industries like nuclear energy. After thousands of cyclist and pedestrian deaths per year, American streets look just about the same as they did a decade ago. But because those deaths are an every day thing, no one feels compelled. It's not until politicians see the numbers for themselves or have someone close to them personally affected by tragedy that things even make it to the 'bill' phase of lawmaking. And even then, you have lobbyists. Corporate lobbyists don't care about lives; they care about policies that might affect their bottom dollar. That's why the general public needs to be more aware of local lawmaking. Sucks that the way American cities are structured discourages such involvement. The mentality just isn't there. It takes thousands of people to combat a handful of company word-jockeys to even stand a chance, but the current societal fabric (funded by those same companies, mind you) keeps people ill-informed. Status quo is, by far, the most serious underlying cause of most deaths worldwide (but especially in America).

    25. Limerence

      I went to Austria. We drove about a lot and there was a lot of fire brigades. Probably cuz it was in the mountains, forest fires would be common and roads were narrow, windy and they were something you could rely for speedy travel.

    26. Limerence

      Haha, I already knew this one. Thanks Horrible History.

    27. Mariano Solis

      In argentina a cuple decades ago there was a major economic scandanls involving some banks. The directors plane misteriusly crash. And the banks office cach fire (with all the registers in it). The firefighters only make shure that the fire whoden spread.

    28. broe5010 broe5010

      2:27, The only mistake Tom has ever made.

    29. Marcus Jay

      Another decade of Tory rule and we’ll have this system back.

    30. king oli

      Did Cicero not make a lot of money by having slave fire fighters and buying burning buildings before this.

    31. Carolin a

      capitalism ❤

    32. Johnny Carcinogen

      In this video, Tom says that human lives are worth more than property. And implies they are worth more than profits. These 3 minutes and 14 seconds indicate that Tom is more qualified for national office than the majority of politicians in London and Washington. At least in 2020 & 2021.

    33. Johnny Carcinogen

      2:04 Capitalism tends towards monopoly? Weird. Who knew?

    34. Pierre Graham

      Hi Tom Scott, thank you for the video. Very informative (as usual). How do you read your lines? I wonder: do you memorize the script just like an actor or there is a teleprompter behind the camera?

    35. K J

      Sure fire office HHAHAHAHHAHAAA

    36. MrDogen

      *Kids screaming for help* "Sorry kid, daddy didn't pay the bill"

    37. John Private

      Thank you Scott for your videos, I am a big fan.

    38. John Private

      Here in our community in USA up until about 20 years ago it was a private for pay fire service. You could pay a annual substitution and there would be no charge for a fire. We would get a decal that went on mail box to identify us as subscribers. If you did not subscribe they would bill you for the service and it was very expensive. Insurance polices to this day in US have a provision to pay for this with rather low limits. Now it is still private but we all are required to pay subscription include with our county property tax. This is not that small of a community with about 30,000 homes.

    39. Ein Zuschauer

      Capitalism working perfectly fine

    40. Redcharcoalaz

      The tall, thin metal pole that comes into view at around 0:32, I walked into by complete accident (I think I might have even literally be facing it) and the noise echoed hugely because of the surroundings being quite large buildings. The street was busy and everyone looked.

    41. Bertrand D

      I think having firefighters for free is a bad idea and we should have MARKET FORCES determine if people should live or die in a fire, just like we do with everything else.

    42. TheHellKiwi

      Here in Chile all firefighters are volunteers, they fight fire on their spare time, which means they also need a regular job and croudfund themselves.

    43. Holly

      btw do people tell you enough that your one of the absolut best youtubers ?

    44. Chess

      And that kids is why privatisation is immoral.

    45. Reason

      I'd rather pay private firefighters than to be taxed. During my lifetime my house will most likely never catch fire whereas I'm taxed 24/7

      1. Mr. Hat

        @Reason oh really? Which kings may I ask?

      2. Reason

        @Mr. Hat Funny. Kings used to say about that when it comes to lords and monarchs

      3. Mr. Hat

        @Reason taxation is how civilization is purchased, if you don't want that, then you're free to live alone in the jungles.

      4. Chess

        @Reason It's part of life, get with the times.

      5. Reason

        @Chess being taxed should be a wake up call

    46. Misteur

      Ancaps destroyed

    47. Kosaku Kawajiri

      I live in Tennessee. There are circumstances around that fire in 2010 that weren't published in most articles. There had been a fire at that home previously and the authorities were convinced that the owners were attempting to burn it down themselves for the insurance money. They were charged with paying the 75 dollar fee for abusing the services of the tax payer funded fire fighting services. Then just three weeks later the house caught fire again. They had not paid their previous court fee for the previous occasion, so they let the house burn. I'd call it karma.

    48. A K

      I would love to see a video describing the healthcare crisis in the U.S., explaining the high cost of an ambulance.

    49. MR2

      All the way back to Ancient Rome can you trace the origins of Private firefighters. It worked a bit more like a Mafia: They would go to the burning building, ask the most exorbitant price they could and only put out the fire to save the property if the owner accepted to pay that high price. If not, they would watch the building burn. Good thing it's not like that anymore.

    50. Dalewyn

      I kept reading this video's title as "Why Firefighters Let Some 18th Century Buildings Burn" for literally weeks. I must be going blind.

    51. TsulFi

      so do i act surprised or point out my disappointment in that of course the USA dropped the ball with having private firefighters 🤦‍♂️? What is next? private police?

    52. OldManShinji

      cuz it was lit

    53. Jhawk2tall

      I am curious if we can do better with the privatize fire service. I know here in America pensions are becoming a major problem. Cities are just promising too much

    54. Sprechchor

      Now we know why sea park can have fire

    55. Michael

      cyberpunk 1877

    56. Nick Medby

      This reminds me of the police in gangs of New York.

    57. k hanna

      The Monument is my FAVOURITE landmark in London.

    58. Kilroy was Here

      Because you can only throw so many buckets of water on something before you just give up and watch the show

    59. Paul S Rohrbaugh

      The difficult truth is that until VERY recently, property WAS valued more than lives - at least by society as a whole. Yes, you might care more about your family than your property, but someone else's family? People died all the time from disease, war, and other things.

    60. Robert Plaster

      Monument isn't AT the site of the fire's outbreak; rather its height is such that were it laid on its side, the tip would reach the point of origin of the fire. Its 202 feet (62m) tall, and 202 feet west of the spot in Pudding Lane where the fire broke out.

    61. Varun Gupta

      Typical 18-century Britishers.

    62. calvin nguyen

      maker Chitqua The little clay figure of Thomas Todd by the Chinese model maker Chitqua is an intimate portrait of a successful merchant - one of the many who helped create London into a thriving mercantile centre in the 18th century.

    63. Alex McD

      I wonder if there was a market in counterfeit fire marks

    64. Rofu Miah

      Thanks for the history lessons I worked 4 years next to monument didn't know fully what happened

    65. PJ

      All that stuff about the insurance company fire brigades could be said about the US healthcare system today

    66. DougtheDonkeyTV

      Capitalism moment

    67. Shiroichi Ryosuke

      In my district we had "Persatuan Relawan Pemadam Kebakaran" in short "predam". Which means "volunteer firefighting union" and they had at least 78 unit of firefighter that was scattered across the district. They doesn't demand any payment but they do take donation. And the craziest part is, when there are fire in some neighborhood, all the 78 came rushing to take down the fire. *And yes we also had the regular official firefighter.

    68. Cubed

      The Monument is actually located 202 ft West of the location where the Great Fire started. 202ft is also the height of the Monument so if the monument was laid horizontal East it would mark the exact spot of the bakery in Pudding Lane.

    69. ana

      Guy: *WHY ARE YOU JUST STANDING THERE SAVE MY HOUSE!!!!!!* Firefightes: Sorry mate, no insurance.

    70. Américo Lucas Zaguini Nunes

      Naively assuming government funded firefighting service is "free" and more ethical... In other words, it is wrong if everyone has (actually having the choice) to pay for a privately owned insurance company (of their choice) to cover for firefighting. But it is right when everyone is forced to pay (hello taxes) for a single provider to cover for the same service.

      1. Mr. Hat

        Naïvely assuming that you would even have a choice in a time before anti-trust laws, and when people where to poor to even get insurance.

    71. Tyler Simmons

      Sitting here wondering why so many Americans think socialized health care would be evil but socialized fire departments are good...

    72. The Supreme Xtream

      The American Health Care System in a Nutshell

    73. vulduv

      "we dident try to put out the fire in your house. as our service mark had fallen of your house due to the ongoing fire."

    74. The Sage

      to show everyone who is boss.

    75. Mollofi Straye

      me: *Fahrenheit 451 intensifies*

    76. Aiden G

      This is how medical works in 2021 USA

    77. 《PlayMyTromboner》

      Imagine your under rubble and firefighters show up and see you but just leave because there was no insurance mark

    78. TheBestLettuce

      Free fire protection? Sounds like socialism

    79. The Mozart Thug

      Makes sense.....I'm always saying how buildings are worth more than human life



    81. Darth Makroth

      America: laughs in private everything

    82. Roland Katsuragi

      Ah, good old insurance schemes

    83. Punica Granatum

      Hi mr. Scott! You seem like the mate I'd want to meet and walk around somewhere. Because you rush from point A to point B; spilling everything there's to say about the place and getting there efficently! I walk like that way too! PM me if you want to discover a new place! Thanks for existing 😙

    84. Shaun House

      I believe the Monument actually stands the height of the Monument away from where the fire was believed to have started. I think the idea is if you lay it down in the right direction the crucible at the top would be where the fire started.

    85. ugrasergun

      I am more surprised this is not a thing in USA.

    86. Tony, the Hawk

      finally, something I knew before Tom told me

    87. FalBΨFGRSΩ

      360° camera? neat

    88. Hawks

      Considering their healthcare system, I’m surprised America hasn’t adopted private fire services.

    89. james mitchell

      Wait this guy is famous has millions of views been watching for years had never looked

    90. Sam Gatti

      Tom Scott VIII is gonna make a video like this about America’s healthcare system

    91. Jeremy Miller

      id accidentally end up stalking him tryna get these facts

    92. Mason Ranalla

      Literally while I watched this video my apartment buildings fire system tripped and we were evacuated

    93. Herbert Landschmid

      In Germany many Companies still have their own "Werksfeuerwehr" (factory fire brigade). Some of them are so well equipped and financed that the local governments dont even bother sendig their own firefighters to bigger/more complicated fires and instead just hire the private ones and pay the bill afterwards because its cheaper than equipping the official fire station with all the special stuff and train the firemen for it.

    94. Alien On Crack

      The great fire of london was an inside job

    95. Ronture

      2:30 There is a pigeon.

    96. Thor Nielsen

      This is an anachronism. Modern firefighters are for saving people, not buildings. These firefighters were supposedly for saving buildings, i.e. a different, but related job.

    97. Vojtěch Hájíček

      What I admire the most is how you were able to say "Bunckingham" in two syllables.

    98. Abby Whyman

      Remember kids, don't do capitalism or you get private fire brigades

    99. pezpeculiar

      Sounds like American healthcare

    100. jill karaway

      I wonder why america still has public firefighters