Fire Badge "A.F.D. 788"

This shield-shaped metal fire badge belonged to a member of the Albany, New York fire department. The paid Albany Fire Department was instituted in 1848, and re organized and incorporated in 1867. The badge likely dates to after 1867. A small circular plaque at the top of the badge is inscribed with the badge number “2” that is slightly worn. Below is the raised initials “A.F.D.” with the raised white metal number “788” in the center. At the bottom of the badge is a raised image representing the coat of arms of Albany. It features a crest with a sloop, and an escutcheon with a fallen tree being gnawed by a beaver above two sheaves of wheat. The escutcheon is flanked by a farmer with sickle on the left and a Native American with bow on the right.
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: 2 in x 1 1/2 in; 5.08 cm x 3.81 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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


Add a comment about this object