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My Grandfathers lost fire badges!

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  • My Grandfathers lost fire badges!

    My name is Keith Seafield. I am a Lieutenant with the Miami-Dade Fire Department. I just had to share this amazing story of me being reunited with my grandfathers lost fire badges that were issued to him over 80 years ago. Here is the story:
    My Grandfather’s Missing Fire Badges. When the World’s Fair was held in Chicago in 1933 & 1934, they needed a fire department to protect the newly erected buildings and the millions of visitors that were estimated to attend. They used members from the Chicago Fire Patrol to man the Fire Department. My grandfather was selected from the Patrol to be one of two Lieutenants needed.
    The Century of Progress Fire Department had interesting badges and helmet fronts. I have been searching online auctions since 1997 trying to locate these badges, always hoping they were still around after all these years. A set of these Lieutenant badges showed up in an online auction. Each Lieutenant was issued a unique style badge for each year. Since I knew there were only two sets ever made, it was a 50/50 chance that it was my grandfather’s. I contacted the seller and told her about my grandfather, giving her his name, Michael Kinsch, asking if she could pull the badges from the online auction and just sell them to me outright. She emailed me back informing me that she was the consignor and the seller would not end the auction early. Here is her response: “Hi Keith, I really want you to have these badges. I am trying to figure out how to make that happen. Truly, they do not belong to me, but rather to the widow of a respected and well known high ranking firefighter. I really want you to have these badges!”

    I was disappointed to say the least. I knew if the auction would run its course, these badges would not be cheap. The last Century of Progress firefighter badge (1 of 38 issued) at auction sold for $900. Due to their rarity, I estimated each of these badges to sell for over a $1000. I know that is a lot of money but there would be two different types of collectors interested in these badges; collectors of the Century of Progress World’s Fair items and collectors of the Century of Progress Fire Department so I knew the bidding would be strong.

    Not wanting to give up, I emailed her again asking if she could at least present a cash offer to the seller. She agreed to do it and asked me a question, “Who is Kenneth Kinsch? I responded back that I didn’t know a Kenneth Kinsch but my grandfather was Michael Kinsch.
    Two days later I get this email, “Hi Keith, your Grandfather’s badges are yours! I talked to my client and she has agreed to your offer for the two badges and wants you to have them. I know for a fact these are your grandfather’s and have a story backing it up.”

    I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The woman left her phone number and I called her right away. It turns out the badges were in a case hanging in the Chicago Fire Commissioners office for decades. When they moved to a different building somehow the badges ended up in the trash. The widow’s husband took them out of the trash and kept them until his recent death. When the consignor removed them from the case there was a tag on the back which said, “Donated by Kenneth Kinsch.” Kenneth Kinsch, according to my Aunt Rose, was my grandfather’s nephew. So now I had the proof that the badges were definitely my grandfather’s.
    These badges were issued to my grandfather 80 years ago as of February 2013! I still find it hard to believe I was reunited with his long-lost badges after all these years!

    Click image for larger version

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    My grandfather wearing the 1934 style badge stands next to the new ALF rig.
    Last edited by Chicago Fire Patrol; 09-27-2015, 11:39 PM.

  • #2
    Thats pretty cool.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."


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