Until the 19th century there were no town fire services in the UK. Insurance companies had their own fire engines and firemen. The world's first municipal fire service was set up in Edinburgh after the Great Fire of in 1824 destroyed much of the city's Old Town.
Before that people paid insurance companies and displayed their 'certificates' in the form of plaques on the front of their building. Many had dates to demonstrate that the year's premium had been paid. No up-to-date plaque, no fire fighting!
Once town brigades were established the insurance companies tended to leave the badges in place as adverts. Such plaques can still be seen on the front of old buildings. Some even have the name of companies that have survived to the present day.
The plaque in the photo is at Blists Hill Victorian town - part of the Ironbridge Gorge group.