Fire Badge "Chicago Fire Dept. Foreman"

This metal fire badge was used by a foreman of the Chicago Fire Department Engine No. 2. The badge has a unique shape, made to resemble a fire hydrant. The badge is inscribed with the text “ENGINE/2/CHICAGO/FIRE DEP’T/FOREMAN/1” which is filled in with black enamel. This Chicago Fire Department introduced its first paid departments in August of 1858, with the last volunteer companies not going out of service until 1867. Engine 2 was eventually disbanded in 1963. This was the second type of badge style the Chicago Fire Department used, introducing it around 1875.
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.
date made
late 19th century
place made
United States
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 1/2 in x 2 in; 6.35 cm x 5.08 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
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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