Fire Badge "N.B.F.D. III"

This shield-shaped fire badge belonged to a member of the New Brighton Fire Department No. 3 of Staten Island, New York. Numerous villages on Staten Island began operating their own volunteer departments in the 1870s. Staten Island was consolidated into the Greater City of New York in 1898, and volunteer departments were replaced with paid municipal companies from 1905 until 1937. This badge likely dates from 1870–1937. There is a circular plaque at the top of the badge with the number “153” inside. Below this are the initials “N.B.F.D.” in silver and beneath that are the raised letters “III” in brass metal. At the bottom of the badge are two female figures flanking a shield with a spread winged eagle gripping a globe on top of the shield. The image is very similar to the state seal of New York, in which mythological figures of Liberty and Justice flank a shield depicting the sun rising behind Mount Beacon over the Hudson River, and a spread winged eagle grips a globe in its talons. At the bottom of the badge are two female figures flanking a shield, with a spread–winged eagle is atop a globe on top of the shield, likely a simplified version of the state seal of New York.
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
Object Name
badge, fireman's
date made
late 19th century
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 7/8 in x 1 1/4 in; 4.7625 cm x 3.175 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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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