Fire Badge "Houston"

This silver plated shield-shaped fire badge was made for a member of the Houston Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 in Houston, Texas. There is an empty plaque at the bottom of the badge, which usually would contain a badge number. The lack of badge number may mean it was never worn. The badge is topped by a hook and ladder truck. A banner at the top of the shield reads “HOUSTON.” The center of the badge bears a large number “1” with two hooks and two ladders crossed behind it. Houston’s volunteer Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 was founded in 1858, and became part of Houston’s paid municipal department in 1895. The badge would likely date to that era.
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
late 19th century
place made
United States
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 1/4 in x 1 3/4 in; 5.715 cm x 4.445 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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