Fire Badge "Exempt Fireman's Association"

Fire Badge "Exempt Fireman's Association"

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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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
badge, fireman's
fire badge
date made
place made
United States: New Jersey, Paterson
associated place
United States: New Jersey, Paterson
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 3/8 in x 1 5/8 in; 6.0325 cm x 4.1275 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Fire Badges
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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