Fire Badge "N.Y. Fire Department 73"

Fire Badge "N.Y. Fire Department 73"

Usage conditions apply
This shield-shaped metal fire badge was issued to an exempt member of the New York City Fire Department between 1855 and 1860. Exempt firemen served five years or more in the volunteer company, granting them exemptions from certain other civic responsibilities. These “exempts” often created associations which mainly served as social clubs, although some exempt fire fighters continued to serve as fire departments if needed. Exempt firemen received a badge in white metal with Prince’s metal numbers; firemen that had not previously served five years to achieve exempt status received badges made of Prince’s metal with white metal numbers. The badge has an upper banner with the inscription “N.Y. FIRE” and the lower banner reads “DEPARTMENT.” The inscriptions are filled in with black enamel. The center of the badge bears the raised badge number “73” in Prince’s Metal.
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
late 19th century
place made
United States
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 1/4 in x 2 1/8 in; 5.715 cm x 5.3975 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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