Fire Badge "West Hoboken Fire Department"

This shield-shaped metal fire badge belonged to a member of the fire department of West Hoboken, New Jersey. West Hoboken merged with Union Hill in 1925 to form Union City, so the badge would date prior to 1925. At the top of the badge is a crossed trumpet and hose nozzle behind a fire helmet. “WEST HOBOKEN" is inscribed in a banner at top of the badge with "FIRE" inscribed below. "DEPARTMENT" is inscribed in the banner at the bottom of the badge below the silver number "9."
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
date made
late 19th or early 20th century
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 1/2 in x 2 1/8 in; 3.81 cm x 5.3975 cm
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New Jersey, Hoboken
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Firefighting Collection
Fire Badges
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
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

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