Fire Badge "Bradford Fire Police Brigade 32"

This shield-shaped metal badge belonged to a member of the fire police brigade of Bradford, Pennsylvania. The brigade was organized in 1878, and served as a fire line to keep crowds away from active fire scenes and to prevent potential thieves from looting during the fire. The company operated until 1890, dating the badge to around this time. The silver-colored badge has a rim decorated with geometric shapes, and is inscribed “BRADFORD/FIRE/32/POLICE/BRIGADE” filled in with black enamel.
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
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 3/4 in x 1 3/8 in; 4.445 cm x 3.4925 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, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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