Fire Badge "L.I. City F.D. Exempt"

This round metal fire badge is decorated with a spread-winged eagle at the top, and a small plaque with two trumpets at the bottom inscribed with the number “202.” The rim of the badge is inscribed “L.I. CITY F.D./EXEMPT.” The badge’s center is decorated with a speaking trumpet, hook, ladder, lantern, and axe arrayed in a circle behind a fire helmet. The Long Island City Fire Department became a paid department in 1891, and was consolidated into the Fire Department of the City of New York in 1898. This badge would have belonged to an exempt fireman (someone who had served more than five years and was exempt from jury duty or militia service) prior to 1891.
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
ca 1910
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New York
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 3/4 in x 2 3/8 in; 4.445 cm x 6.0325 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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