Fire Badge "Newark Fire Department 327"

This shield-shaped metal fire badge belonged to a member of the fire department of Newark, New Jersey. The white metal badge has an upper banner that reads “NEWARK FIRE” and a lower banner that reads “DEPARTMENT” in raised letters. The raised number “327” in brass colored metal is in the center of the badge. Newark had a volunteer fire department prior to its incorporation as a city in 1836, when it transferred to a part paid and part volunteer department. In 1857, the department was re organized, and in 1889 it became a fully paid department. The 1857 city ordinance re organizing the department describes the badge as “made of German silver, bearing the words ‘Newark Fire Department’ and each badge shall bear a distinct number in raised figures thereon of brass metal.” Each member of the department received his badge from the Chief Engineer with a fifty cent deposit.
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, Newark
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 1/2 in x 2 1/4 in; 6.35 cm x 5.715 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


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