Fire Badge "J.C.F.D. 419"

This metal fire badge is in the shape of a Maltese cross, a popular symbol among firefighting companies. The circular center of the cross bears the image of the state seal of New Jersey. Allegorical figures of Liberty (holding her staff and liberty cap) and Ceres (holding a cornucopia) flank a shield with three plows topped by a horse’s head. The upper arm of the cross bears the initials “J.C.F.D.” the right arm has an image of a fire engine, the lower arm has the raised number “419,” and the left arm has a crossed hook and ladder. Hudson City and Bergen were consolidated into Jersey City in 1870, and the Jersey City Fire Department was organized as a paid municipal fire department in 1871.
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
19th century
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New Jersey
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 1/4 in; 5.715 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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