The modern-day fire brigade has evolved following many years of development and improvements. Regardless of all of the changes and phases that firefighting has experienced, there is one element that has remained the same, the firefighter badge. The badges the firefighters wear have a rich history stemming from hundreds of years ago.
The Maltese 8-point cross dates back to the crusades and the fight for the holy land. Fire was used as a weapon against the Knights in a battle on the island of Malta. The Knights came together and fought the flames to rescue their fellow brothers. The Knights were later awarded a badge of honor that was similar to the design of the 8-point Maltese cross. It symbolizes protection and loyalty that the wearer upholds.
The center seal is known as the Scramble, and the image represents preparedness. The scramble is traditionally a compilation of multiple fire symbols. While different per fire station department, they typically contain a ladder and an ax.
In the early days of firefighting, an order was given using a bugle. The person who held the bugle was easily identifiable as the leader of the station. The bugle on the firefighter badge symbolizes leadership within the fire department and can be used as fire department insignia to signify seniority.
The color red is also prevalent within the Maltese Cross or scramble. There are two reasons for this. First, the color red is commonly associated with the flames of a fire. Second, fire trucks and engines have traditionally been red in order to stand out and draw attention to their presence. In addition, red is viewed as a color of strength and the visual elements can bring attention to the wearer.
While the modern badges worn by firefighters can contain additional symbolic elements, they are all traditionally inspired by the firefighter badge in order to represent their long history of heroism. Firefighters are more than just a fire station compilation of individuals fighting fires. Today, they have become a hazard emergency team for our community receiving the trust of the public–A team of individuals who are readily welcomed into our homes during some of the worst days of the occupant’s lives, knowing that the firefighters are there to make it better.
Take some time throughout this week to be thankful for all that our firefighters do for us and our communities. This tradition of public trust is one that can’t be extinguished.