Fire Badge "Orange Fire Department 17"

This shield-shaped fire badge belonged to a member of the Orange, New Jersey fire department during the late 19th century. The Orange Fire Department was officially organized in 1865, and became a paid department in 1873. This badge likely dates to around this time. The badge has an upper banner that reads “ORANGE” in raised letters, with a lower banner that reads “FIRE DEPARTMENT” with the initials “NJ” below. The number “17” is in the center of the badge in raised metal. A raised image of a crossed trumpet and hose nozzle behind a fire helmet decorates the badge.
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
late 19th century
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New Jersey, Essex county
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 1/8 in x 2 in; 5.3975 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
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Add a comment about this object