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Posted on: May 29, 2019

Fire Badge Returned to Family After More Than 100 Years

1916 Merced Fire Badge

On May 23, District 4 Supervisor Lloyd Pareira returned a "Merced Fire Department" badge from 1916 to the great-grandson of the owner—volunteer Fireman Frank L. Freitas.

The badge was found inside of a workshop at a home in Merced Falls. The individual who found the badge is friends with Supervisor Pareira and turned the badge over to him in hopes of finding and returning it to the family.

Although the back of the badge was inscribed with a date (May 12, 1916) and a name (Frank R. Freetas), locating the family of the firefighter wasn't as easy as expected—the last name and middle initial of the individual were misspelled.

However, Sarah Lim, Director of the Merced County Courthouse Museum, was able to go through archived minutes from the Merced City Fire Department (there was no County Fire Department at the time). By going through the minutes, city directories and old photos, Sarah was able to determine that the name was misspelled and the original owner was a relative of Kory Billings, a local realtor and member of the Playhouse Merced Board of Directors.

The badge was returned to Kory and his family during a ceremony in the Board of Supervisors Chambers. Also in attendance were representatives from the Merced County Fire Department, Merced City Fire Department, Merced County Board of Supervisors and staff, Atwater City Council, and staff from Merced City.

Merced County would like to thank Kory Billings, his family, and everyone who attended the event. Also, a big "thank you" to Sarah Lim for researching the history of the badge and helping to return it to the rightful owner.

View Photos from the Ceremony
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