Fire Badge "P.F.D. 1"

Description
This shield-shaped metal fire badge likely belonged to a member of the Paterson, New Jersey fire department. A small circular plaque at the top of the badge bears the badge number “63.” Below that are the initials “P.F.D.” A large, raised, silver colored number “1” is in the center of the badge, flanked by the initials “N” and “J.” A steam fire engine is depicted at the bottom of the badge. This badge is very similar to the type produced by the New York Fire Department from 1860 until 1865, and may date to around that time.
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
date made
late 19th century
maker
unknown
place made
United States
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 2 in x 1 1/2 in; 5.08 cm x 3.81 cm
ID Number
2005.0233.1342
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.1342
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Work
Fire Badges
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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