Fire Badge "P.F.D. N.J."

Fire Badge "P.F.D. N.J."

Usage conditions apply
This shield-shaped metal fire badge likely belonged to a member of the Fire Company No. 1 of Paterson, New Jersey. A small circular plaque at the top of the badge bears the badge number “55.” Below that are the initials “P.F.D.” A large number “1” is in the center of the badge, with a crossed ladder and hook behind it, flanked by the initials “N” and “J.” A steam fire engine is depicted at the bottom of the badge.
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
date made
19th century
place made
United States
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 1/2 in x 1 7/8 in; 3.81 cm x 4.7625 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Firefighting Collection
Fire Badges
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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This style badge was used by the Paterson N.J.F.D. from the late 1860's-1890, this would have been the badge of a non-exempt firefighter, less than 7 years active duty, based on it being brass with a nickel plated number. Badges that were fully nickel plated designated an exempt firefighter with 7 years active service. It was from Eagle Hook & Ladder Co. #1, one of three hook & ladder companies during the volunteer years of 1815-1890 when they became a fully paid department.

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