Fire Badge "The Fire Department of the City of Brooklyn"

Fire Badge "The Fire Department of the City of Brooklyn"

Usage conditions apply
This circular brass fire badge has a stippled background. An inscription around the rim reads “THE FIRE DEPARTMENT OF THE CITY OF BROOKLYN.” The center of the badge has upper and lower banners that read “No. 84/FIREMAN.” The badge was issued after the City of Brooklyn was incorporated in 1834 but before Brooklyn merged with Williamsburg in 1855, when the fire department was divided into eastern and western districts. These separate Brooklyn Eastern and Western District fire department badges can be seen in object 2005.0233.1326 and 2005.0233.1371. The number “84” is likely assigned to the badge wearer, and does not refer to the company.
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
early 20th century
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New York, Brooklyn
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 5/8 in; 6.6675 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
Firefighting Collection
Fire Badges
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object