Fire Badge "Vigilant V1 Junior"

Description
This shield-shaped metal fire badge belonged to a Junior member of the Vigilant Fire Company. A spread winged eagle grips the top of the badge in its talons, with the inscription “VIGILANT” in a banner below the eagle. A lower banner reads “VI JUNIOR VI” and a plaque at the bottom of the badge is inscribed with the number “3.” The center of the badge bears an image of a steam fire engine. The “Junior” inscription on the badge means this badge would have belonged to a youngster who was part of a program to educate about fire prevention and firefighting techniques.
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: 2 1/4 in x 1 1/2 in; 5.715 cm x 3.81 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
2005.0233.1318
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.1318
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

Visitor Comments

11/5/2015 6:11:00 PM
Jim Eifler
This badge is from Vigilant Engine Company #6 from Paterson N.J.. Vigilant #6 was founded organized January 1, 1867, they were given the hand operated engine previously used by Eng. Co. #1. The Paterson N.J. Volunteer F.D. started operations on July 4, 1815 and is now a paid F.D. with 13 companies. It is believed these were given to children in the city who had an interest in the F.D..
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