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ORIGIN OF THE FIREMAN AND CHILD
From the Fireman’s Fund Record, October 1950.

One of the most human and appealing trademarks in the world.

Such descriptions have often been accorded the famous insignia of Fireman’s Fund—the Fireman and Child emblem depicting a nightgown-clad youngster snuggling in the arms of a grimly determined fireman who is taking her through flames to safety. Study that escutcheon. There is something about it to grip the imagination and tug at the heart—a crest, that inspires confidence and justly imparts a feeling of security. Advertising men have hailed the trademark a "natural."

On numerous occasions the Fireman’s Fund Record has carried articles on the noted symbol—but never on its origin. For a time, despite much research, it appeared that facts surrounding the origination of the crest were buried forever in the past.

And then came the revelation of a visitor to the J. B. Levison Memorial Collection—Grayson Dutton, son of the late William J. Dutton, fifth president of our company and the son, in turn, of Henry Dutton, one of the original incorporators.

Could Grayson Dutton throw any light upon the Fireman and Child? After long thought—thought that groped back into his boyhood—he did.

In 1881 or 1882, Mr. Dutton declared, a plainly dressed struggling woman artist, young in years, hesitantly entered his father’s office of Fireman’s Fund, then a three-story brick building at California and Sansome Streets, San Francisco, with an imposing staff of about 10 clerks.

"Mr. Dutton," the caller said in effect, "you always put out calendars at Christmas—just plain calendars with no pictures on them."

"Humph! Harumph!" coughed William Dutton. "That’s true—very true. But what do you have in mind?"

"Just this," she replied, unrolling a painting of a fireman and child. "I did it at home for you—just in case. Don’t you think this would brighten those calendars?"

"Well—er—I’ll have to think about it," said the officer, "Hum-m—let’s see." He studied the picture closely. "Well, that is sort of nice, isn’t it?" And suddenly he slapped his knee. "By jingoes, we’ll buy it—and all rights to it! Thank you, madam, for coming in. Thank you very much."

And that was the beginning of the famous symbol. Through the years it has undergone numerous changes and refinements, but the idea behind it remains unaltered.

Grayson Dutton, who also worked for Fireman’s Fund (1892-1931), brackets the date of the picture’s origin through some Sherlocking of memory. In December of 1879 he and his family moved into a home at California and Divisadero Streets, San Francisco, where as a small boy he used one corner of the attic for a playroom. On his second Christmas there—1880—he tacked a Fireman’s Fund calendar on the wall. Like others before it, it was not illustrated; but on the following year or the year after—1881 or 1882—the new calendar was issued bearing that intriguing, wonderful picture. In later years Mr. Dutton’s father told him how that picture came about. And now it all comes back to him.

Thirty years ago the Fireman’s Fund Record reported:

"When all is said, the picture of the Fireman and the Child is in fact a dramatic symbolization of Service. Because of that, it is as pertinent to the Fireman’s Fund today as when it was first issued."

[Fireman’s Fund Archives: 4-1-3-4-63; 0411]



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