Fire Badge "Brooklyn Fire Dept. 2333"

This circular metal fire badge was used by a member of the Western District Fire Department in Brooklyn, New York between 1855 and 1869. The Brooklyn Western District Fire Department was founded when Williamsburg was consolidated into Brooklyn and the Fire Department was split into Eastern and Western Districts. These two districts operated until the institution of the paid department in 1870. The badge is made of Prince’s metal (a copper and zinc alloy), which denoted a non exempt fireman. The raised white metal number “2333” is in the center of the badge. An upper banner is inscribed “BROOKLYN” and a lower banner reads “FIRE DEPt./W.D.”
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
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New York, Brooklyn
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 7/8 in; 4.7625 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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