In the late 19th century many Fire Brigades are independent contractors. They go around a district selling insurance in the form of their services. If you pay them they put their symbol on your building. When a building catches fire several crews might turn up and most will then leave when they realise it isn’t one of their customers.
In some areas competition between the Brigades is very fierce and their service often becomes a protection racket. Some members of the Brigades secretly set fires in the premises of people and businesses that have refused their insurance or who are paid up to a competitor.
The Salamander is by far the largest and most aggressive Fire Insurance Brigade in North London. Its men are more than willing to commit arson, extort ‘insurance’ payments, rob burning buildings, intimidate other brigades and attack anyone who gets in their way.
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