Fire Badge "A.M. Dodge & Co. Fire Department"


This shield-shaped fire badge belonged to a member of the A.M. Dodge & Company Fire Department of Jersey City, New Jersey during the late 19th century. The top of the badge has a decoration of a crossed speaking trumpet and hose nozzle behind a fire helmet. An upper banner is inscribed “A.M. DODGE & CO.” and a lower banner reads “DEPARTMENT” in raised letters. The center of the badge bears a large raised number “28” with the word “FIRE” above it. This badge is somewhat unique in that A.M. Dodge & Co. was a lumber business, and not a municipality. The company organized a fire brigade amongst their employees to prevent what obviously could be a catastrophic loss of wares if a fire did get out of hand. The lumber yard and docks at Jersey City had six fire hydrants and over five hundred feet of hose to help protect the lumber.

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: 2005.0233.1341Accession Number: 2005.0233Catalog Number: 2005.0233.1341

Object Name: badge, fireman's

Physical Description: metal (overall material)Measurements: overall: 2 in x 1 1/2 in; 5.08 cm x 3.81 cm


Record Id: nmah_1381218

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