The Badge of a Fire Fighter is the Maltese
Cross. The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection and a badge of honor. Its
story is hundreds of years old.
When a courageous band of
crusaders known as Knights of St. John
fought the Saracens for possession on of the holy land, they encountered a new
weapon unknown to European warriors. It was a simple, but horrible device of
war. It wrought excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave fighters
for the cross. The Saracens 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 the knights were burned
alive; others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying
painful, fiery deaths.
Thus, these men became our
first Fire Fighters and the first of a long list of courageous Fire Fighters.
Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow crusaders who awarded each hero
a badge of honor-a cross similar to the one fire fighters wear today. Since the
Knights of St. John lived for close
to four centuries on a little island 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 Fire Fighter who 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 Fire
Fighter's badge of honor, signifying that he works in courage-a ladder rung
away from death.