Fire Badge "Paterson Fire Department 424"

Fire Badge "Paterson Fire Department 424"

Usage conditions apply
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.
This shield-shaped fire badge of nickel-plated brass belonged to a member of the volunteer fire department of Paterson, New Jersey. The rim of the badge is made to resemble a riveted fire hose, with a fire helmet at the top of the badge. An upper banner bears the word “PATERSON” in raised text, with the lower banner reading “FIRE DEPARTMENT,” also in raised letters. The center of the badge has the raised number “424” in brass in the center. This is the first official badge design adopted by the fire department in Paterson from 1860, and the number was unique to a particular firefighter. These were used until the paid municipal Paterson Fire Department was established in 1890.
Currently not on view
Object Name
badge, fireman's
date made
place made
United States: New Jersey
associated place
United States: New Jersey, Paterson
Physical Description
nickel (overall material)
brass (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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