Fire Badge "Elizabeth, N.J."

Description
This shield-shaped metal fire badge belonged to the fire department of Elizabeth, New Jersey. A fire helmet with crossed trumpet and hose nozzle sits at the top of the shield. A banner on a stippled background reads “Elizabeth, N.J.” There is a large number “1” in the center of the badge, above an image of a hook and ladder fire truck. Badge number “566” is in a circle at the bottom of the 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.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
badge, fireman's
date made
19th century
maker
unknown
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 1 3/4 in x 2 in; 4.445 cm x 5.08 cm
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New Jersey, Elizabeth
ID Number
2005.0233.1292
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.1292
subject
Work
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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