Fire Badge "Rapid Hose FD Rondout"

This shield-shaped metal fire badge belonged to a member of the Rapid Hose Company No. 1 of Rondout (now Kingston), New York. The Rapid Hose Company was founded in 1860 before Rondout became part of Kingston, New York, in 1872. In 1877 Kingston incorporated the Rapid Hose Company No. 1, and it still operates into the 21st century. The badge has an upper banner that is inscribed “RAPID HOSE,” a lower banner inscribed “RONDOUT,” and a bottom plaque inscribed with the number “1”. All the inscriptions are filled in with black enamel. The center of the badge is decorated with a raised image of a four-wheeled hose carriage, flanked by the initials “F” and “D.” Two crossed trumpets are behind the upper banner, and two hooks and a ladder protrude from the bottom plaque.
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
Object Name
badge, fireman's
date made
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 1/4 in x 1 3/4 in; 5.715 cm x 4.445 cm
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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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