Fire Badge "The Volunteer Firemens Association; City of Brooklyn W.D."

This round metal fire badge has a central decoration consisting of a fire helmet, two crossed fire trumpets, a crossed ladder and hook, fire torch, axe, and other firefighting paraphernalia. Above these is an old fire pumper, and below is a hose reel. The rim of the medal is inscribed "THE VOLUNTEER FIREMENS ASSOCIATION W.D. CITY OF BROOKLYN" with the number "497" inscribed in a plaque at the bottom of the badge. After the dissolution of volunteer firefighting companies in favor of a paid municipal force, volunteer associations were founded to continue the camaraderie of fire houses amongst former volunteers. This badge would have been worn by a member of Brooklyn’s Western District volunteer association, possibly in tandem with his active duty badge.
Metal firefighter’s badges were a part of the firefighter’s uniform since volunteer companies began to proliferate in the early 19th century. As volunteer companies gave way to municipal fire departments during the mid–19th century, these badges became mandated by uniform codes. Badges served as official identification at fire scenes, as access to derelict buildings by unscrupulous citizens could result in looting. Fire badges came in a variety of shapes, most notably circular, shield–shaped, or the Maltese cross. While shield–shaped badges were often worn on the chest, circular and cross-shaped badges can be seen on jacket lapels or soft caps. Badges usually detailed the company’s name, number and department, and were often decorated with various symbols of the profession such as hose carriages, hand–pumped engines, hoses, trumpets, helmets, hooks, and ladders. For paid municipal companies, many badges also featured the badge number of the wearer.
Currently not on view
date made
late 19th century
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New York, Brooklyn
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 3/4 in; 4.445 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Fire Badges
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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