Fire Badge "Exempt Fireman's Association"


This shield-shaped metal fire badge has a scrolling floral border and is decorated by a variety of scrolls. A hand-pumped fire engine decorates the center of the badge. The upper banner reads “EXEMPT” the lower banner reads “FIREMEN’S ASS’N.” and the bottom banner reads “PATERSON, N.J.” In Paterson, New Jersey, a law was passed in 1830 that exempted members of the Volunteer Fire Association from militia and jury duty after serving seven years as firemen. The Exempt Firemen’s Association of Patterson, New Jersey was established for the exempt firemen of Paterson in 1882. The Association served as social one to foster camaraderie among former volunteer firemen after the paid fire department came to Paterson in 1890. The association had a building with a parlor, smoking and sitting room, kitchen and dining room, games room, bath room, and reading room.

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.

Date Made: 1885-1900

Maker: unknown

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New Jersey, PatersonAssociated Place: United States: New Jersey, Paterson

See more items in: Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement, Work, Firefighting Collection, Fire Badges


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0233.1264Catalog Number: 2005.0233.1264Accession Number: 2005.0233

Object Name: badge, fireman'sfire badge

Physical Description: metal (overall material)Measurements: overall: 2 3/8 in x 1 5/8 in; 6.0325 cm x 4.1275 cm


Record Id: nmah_1380455

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