Fire Badge "Volunteer Firemens Association of NY City"

Fire Badge "Volunteer Firemens Association of NY City"

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This shield-shaped metal fire badge belonged to the Volunteer Firemens Association of New York City. The badge has a central decoration of a fire helmet with trumpet, hook, ladder, lamp, and axe arrayed in a circular pattern behind it. A spread-winged eagle is at the top of the shield, and a plaque at the bottom is inscribed with the number “500.” The Volunteer Firemens Association of New York City was founded on December 22, 1883. The Association welcomed all volunteer firemen who left their companies in good standing as members and provided a social space for them to meet as well as a burial fund to pay for their internment after passing. Other associations for volunteer firefighters—including the Exempt Firemens Association of New York—required five years of service in a volunteer company before joining.
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
late 19th century
place made
United States: New York, New York
associated place
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 3/4 in x 2 3/4 in; 4.445 cm x 6.985 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog 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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I have my Great grandfathers badge and picture in uniform hanging in my office. He is the first of 5 generations of volunteer firefighters in the NYC area

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