The badge of a Firefighter is the
Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross is
a symbol of protection, a badge of
honor, and its story is hundreds of
years old. When a courageous band of
crusaders, known as the Knights of
St. John, fought the Saracens for
possession of the Holy Land, they
were faced with a new weapon not
known to European fighters. It was a
simple but horrible device of war.
The Saracens weapon was fire.
As the crusaders advanced on the walls of
the city, they were bombarded with glass
bombs containing naphtha. When they were
saturated with the liquid, the Saracens
threw flaming torches into the crusaders.
Hundreds of knights were burned alive while
others risked their lives in an effort to
save their kinsmen from painful fiery
deaths. Thus these men became the first
Firemen, and the first of a long line of
Firefighters. Their heroic efforts were
recognized by fellow crusaders who awarded
each other with a badge of honor similar to
the cross firefighters wear today.
Since the Knights of St. John lived for
close to four centuries on the island of
Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, the cross
came to be known as the Maltese Cross. The
Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection.
It means that the Firefighter that wears
this cross is willing to lay down his life
for you, just as the crusaders sacrificed
their lives for their fellow man so many
years ago. The Maltese Cross is a
Firefighter’s badge of honor, signifying
that he works in courage - a ladder rung
away from death.