What the Badge Stands for:
The Maltese Cross' Symbols and Meaning. Firefighters are identified by and are very proud of the badge that identifies them with their department. The majority of firefighter badges are in the shape of the Maltese Cross. Why the Maltese Cross? The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection and a badge of honor with a story that is hundreds of years old.
When a courageous band of Crusaders from Malta, known as the Knights of St. John, fought the Sarecens 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 that wrought excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave fighters for the Cross. The Saracen's weapon was "Fire"!!
As the Crusaders advanced on the walls of the city, they were struck by glass bombs containing naphtha. When they became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming torch into their midst. Hundreds of knights were burned alive; others were called upon to perform heroic deeds by risking their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful fiery deaths.
Thus, these men became our first firemen and the first of a long list of courageous firefighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow Crusaders who awarded each with a badge of honor - a cross similar to the one firemen wear today. Since the Knights of St. John lived for close to four centuries on a little island in the Mediterranean Sea, named Malta, the cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross.
The Maltese Cross is your symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his/her 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 or she works in courage - a ladder-rung away from death.