Fire Badge "Philadelphia Reserve Fire Force"

This gold-colored cross-shaped fire badge was used by a member of the Philadelphia Reserve Fire Force of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the second half of the 20th century. The Reserve Fire Force was established in the 1950s to assist the paid fire department when called upon in fighting larger conflagrations. The circular center of the badge bears the inscription “RESERVE FIRE FORCE/PHILA.” around the rim with all filled in with black enamel.The center of the badge has four crossed speaking trumpets, which often denoted the rank of the wearer, commonly an assistant chief.
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
20th century
place made
United States
associated place
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
copper gold plated (overall material)
overall: 2 1/4 in x 2 1/4 in; 5.715 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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