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Crassus’ fire brigade


Marcus Licinius Crassus was one of the richest Romans in history. One of his ways to become rich was organizing a “fire brigade”.

It is worth mentioning that in the half of the 1st century BCE in Rome, there was no fire fighting services. On the other hand fire was a common cataclysm in Rome. To a large extent wooden buildings and city crush meant that a small spark was enough to start a fire that spread easily.

But how did the Crassus’ “fire brigade” worked? At the time when the fire broke out Crassus with his “firemen” (a group of 500 slaves – architects and builders) appeared on the spot and first bought the building with the earth for a very low price, and only then his people proceeded to extinguish the fire. In this way, Crassus became the owner of a large part of Roman real estate.


  • Plutarch, Crassus, 2.3–4

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