Fire Badge "Cleveland F.D. 1"


This shield-shaped metal fire badge was issued by the fire department of Cleveland, Ohio. The metal badge has a stippled background, with an upper banner that reads “CLEVELAND” in raised letters. Below the banner are the initials “F.D.” A raised white metal number “1” is in the center of the badge. The paid Cleveland Fire Department was established in 1863, replacing the volunteer fire department that had operated since 1833.

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: 2005.0233.1359Accession Number: 2005.0233Catalog Number: 2005.0233.1359

Object Name: badge, fireman's

Physical Description: metal (overall material)Measurements: overall: 1 7/8 in x 1 3/8 in; 4.7625 cm x 3.4925 cm


Record Id: nmah_1381240

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