Fire Badge "Newburg Fire Department"


This oval metal fire badge belonged to a member of the fire department of Newburgh, New York. The badge is decorated by an encircled hose and is topped by crossed speaking trumpets and a helmet. An upper banner reads “NEWBURGH” while a lower banner reads “FIRE DEPARTMENT.” The number “576” is in the center of the badge. The design of this badge was a popular choice among fire companies at the time, as examples can be seen in object 2005.0233.1258, 2005.0233.1270, 2005.0233.1331, 2005.0233.1358, 2005.0233.1361, and 2005.0233.1366 representing companies from Passaic, Brooklyn, Newburgh, Goshen, and Dover.

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: late 19th century

Maker: unknown

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States

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: 2005.0233.1270Accession Number: 2005.0233Catalog Number: 2005.0233.1270

Object Name: badge, fireman'sfire badge

Physical Description: metal (overall material)Measurements: overall: 2 1/4 in x 2 3/8 in; 5.715 cm x 6.0325 cm


Record Id: nmah_1380471

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.