Fire Badge "Passaic 169"

This metal fire badge is encircled by a hose and is topped by crossed speaking trumpets and a helmet. An upper banner reads “Passaic” while a lower banner reads “Fire Department.” The number “169” is in the center of the badge. The design of this badge was a popular choice among fire companies at the time. Examples can be seen in object 2005.0233.1258, 2005.0233.1270, 2005.0233.1331, 2005.0233.1358, 2005.0233.1361, and 2005.0233.1366 representing companies from Passaic, Brooklyn, Newburgh, Goshen, and Dover.
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
Object Name
badge, fireman's
fire badge
date made
late 19th century
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 1/4 in x 2 1/4 in; 5.715 cm x 5.715 cm
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New Jersey, Passaic
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Fire Badges
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


Add a comment about this object