Fire Badge "City of Bergen Fire Department"

Description
This shield–shaped metal fire badge belonged to a member of the City of Bergen (New Jersey) Fire Department. The silver–plated badge has a stippled background with an upper and lower banner that reads “CITY OF BERGEN/DEPARTMENT.” The badge is decorated with a fire helmet in front of a crossed trumpet and hose nozzle. Below the helmet is the brass number “150” above the word “FIRE.” The City of Bergen was incorporated from Bergen Township in 1855 and became part of Jersey City in 1870, so this badge would have been used between those dates.
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
date made
late 19th century
maker
unknown
place made
North America
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 1 3/4 in x 1 1/2 in; 4.445 cm x 3.81 cm
ID Number
2005.0233.1303
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.1303
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Work
Fire Badges
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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