Fire Badge "Greenbush Fire Department"

Description
This shield-shaped metal fire badge belonged to a member of the Greenbush Fire Department. Greenbush likely refers to either the New York town now known as Blauvelt, or the town of Greenbush, New York that divided into North and East Greenbush in 1855. The badge’s rim is designed to look like a riveted fire hose, with the ends of the hose intertwining at the top of the badge. Stylized flames leap from the bottom of the badge. An upper banner reads “GREENBUSH” in raised letters and the bottom banner reads “FIRE DEPARTMENT.” The badge is decorated with a crossed trumpet and fire hose nozzle behind a fire helmet. The center of the badge, where a badge number would usually be located is empty, meaning this badge may never have been worn by an active member of the Fire Department.
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.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
badge, fireman's
date made
early 20th century
maker
unknown
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 2 1/4 in x 2 1/8 in; 5.715 cm x 5.3975 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
2005.0233.1372
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.1372
subject
Work
Firefighting Collection
Fire Badges
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
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

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