This installment of our department badge series deals with the round badge issued in 1911. Up until this time there was no standard badge issued to members of the department. 1911 marks the first time ALL members of the department were issued the same badge no matter which company they belonged to.
Above are two examples of the “round badge”. You will note that they have no company designation. In 1911, the West Haven Fire Department consisted of four separate and independent volunteer companies. Engine and Hose Company #1 stationed on Campbell Avenue, Hook & Ladder Company #1 stationed on Second Avenue, North End Hose Company #3 stationed on Spring Street, and Savin Rock Hose Company #4 stationed on the corner of Hill and Holmes Streets.
This style of badge is elegant in it’s simplicity. A round badge banded with a fire hose, topped off with a fire helmet. The face states simply, “West Haven Fire Dept.” with a numerical designation in the center.
On March 14,1911, at the monthly Borough meeting of the Warden and Burgesses, it was voted that the Borough purchase One Hundred Fifty (150) fire department membership badges, Four (4) badges for the Captains and Eight (8) badges for the Lieutenants of the several companies, Three (3) badges for the Fire Commissioners, and One (1) each for the Chief, Assistant Chief, Superintendent of Fire Alarms and the Warden.
Upon delivery of the new badges, a special meeting was called on 9-15-1911 and all members of the West Haven Fire Service were summoned regardless of company affiliation. After the officers were sworn in, each company was sworn in en mass and issued their new badges. The new badges were so important that they were even incorporated into the Oath of Fireman.
As of this writing, we can only account for three of the 150 badges purchased in 1911. One is the property of the West Haven Fire Department Historical Library and two are in private collections. It seems that this style badge was in service for less than 10 years when it was replaced with a square style badge.
Where are the rest of the round badges? This is a mystery that we are still trying to solve. If any of our faithful readers know of any of these badges please let us know, we would love to photograph them and document to whom they were issued.
~Badge #92 courtesy of the Charles E. Raubeson collection.
~Badge #10 courtesy of the WHFD Historical Library.