Symbolism of the Firefighter Emblem (Maltese & Florian Cross) (2022)

Symbolism of the Firefighter Emblem (Maltese & Florian Cross) (1)About the Author: Hi! I'm Chris Hunt, and I wrote this article. The information presented is my opinion based on personal experience and online research. It doesn't constitute advice, professional or otherwise. Furthermore, I don't guarantee the quality or finish of any of the products showcased. According to the Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions, and Privacy Policy posted on the website, you acknowledge abiding by them when using the site. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases (without additional cost or expense to you).

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The Firefighter Cross symbolizes honor, bravery, courage, and integrity.

People around the world use this cross as the symbol of firefighters. We will take this article to dive into what the cross is, what it symbolizes, and how firefighters use it.

As you’ll see, it’s got a long (and sometimes debated) history. But today, we all come together to use it for the same reason: it’s a sign of pride in the work firefighters do and a symbol that holds firefighters’ brotherhood worldwide.

(Video) Maltese Cross Meaning, Origins and Symbolism

What is the Firefighter Cross?

People usually refer to it as the Maltese Cross or St. Florian Cross.

While the firefighter cross’s shape closely resembles the St Florian cross, it also looks like the Maltese Cross.

While the Maltese and St Florian crosses are different, they have a lot of similarities in meaning. It’s even believed the more modern Maltese Cross is derivative of the older St Florian cross.

So, you’ll find firefighters legitimately use both names to talk about the ‘symbol of firefighters’ worldwide. While the St Florian cross appears to be the ‘real’ cross (as it is the Patron Saint of Firefighters), both are used and accepted.

For example, the International Association of Firefighters [1] employs the St. Florian Cross. Still, the Country Fire Authority of Victoria, Australia [2] uses the Maltese Cross as their ‘Fire Service Star.’

Symbolism of the Firefighter Emblem (Maltese & Florian Cross) (2)

What is the History of the St. Florian Cross?

The St. Florian Cross came before the Maltese Cross [3]. It’s known that its name came after a 3rd or 4th-century commander in the Roman army. His job was to organize the firefighters of the province of Noricum, which he commanded. He was certainly not the first firefighter, but he was beloved by the people for his civic service and his servitude to Jesus. He commanded the first organized firefighting contingent within the Roman army.

(Video) 17 Types of Crosses & What They Mean | SymbolSage

St. Florian’s death was not a nice one, though. He was known for refusing to enforce the anti-Christian laws of the time. He declined to give the old Roman gods a sacrificial gift when a lord gave him a direct order, so he was drowned!

Many centuries later, he was named a saint and has become the patron saint of firefighters.

St Florian’s cross is his symbol. It is an eight-pointed star with rounded edges and is the cross that looks most like the crosses on firefighter emblems today.

What is the History of the Maltese Cross?

The Maltese Cross dates back to the Crusades of the 14th Century.

Legend says that the Knights of St John were in a close battle with the Saracens for the holy land when they were doused in fire by the Saracens. The Saracens lobbed glass bombs of naphtha and lit it, watching the Knights burn alive.

The Knights’ battle against the Saracens quickly became a battle to extinguish the fire engulfing their comrades.

The heroic efforts of the Knights to put out the fire led to widespread recognition of their ability to fight against fire. As a result, these Knights got a badge of honor with an emblazed eight-pointed cross.

(Video) 27. St Florian

As these Knights hailed from Malta, the cross they got for their firefighting efforts was named the ‘Maltese Cross.’

It is not a long bow to draw to assume the cross-handed to these Knights from Malta was a variation of St Florian’s cross.

So what does the Cross Symbolize?

The Maltese Cross symbolizes:

  • Willingness to protect and lay down your life to protect and save others.
  • Courage, Gallantry, and Loyalty to your brothers and community.
  • .Sympathy for others.
  • Perseverance against the odds.
  • Explicitness (being clear and upfront)
  • Dexterity (physical ability to do complex tasks)
  • Tact (the mindfulness and skill to complete the tasks)
  • Observational Skills.

Symbolism of the Firefighter Emblem (Maltese & Florian Cross) (3)

How is the Firefighter Cross used today?

The firefighter cross appears on most cities’ firefighter emblems. In addition, you’ll see it on their trucks, helmets, and above the front door to the fire station.

But there are plenty of other places you might also find the cross.

One excellent place where I’ve seen it is on a firefighter’s cufflinks. So next time you’re at a formal ball or event where firefighters are attending, check out their cufflinks – there’s a good chance you’ll see the Maltese Cross.

(Video) Firefighter Maltese

If you’re ever going to buy a gift for a firefighter, you’ll also find that there are tons with the emblem emblazoned on them. One of my favorites is specialized rescue knives with the Maltese cross on the handle. These knives are often created especially for firefighters – with car rescue multi-tools built into the blades. So the addition of the emblem on them works a treat.

Other tools that often have emblems include specialized firefighter flashlights designed to work well in smoke and even technical firefighter gloves. Firefighters often need NFPA-approved firefighting gloves that can withstand the heat and rigor of fire duties. The emblazoning of the firefighter emblem on this gear gives it a personalized feel. It shows the equipment is made specifically for a firefighter.

Are there Rules for Who can and can’t Wear It?

No, there isn’t a particular rule book. Although if you’re a firefighter, you might find that your fire department might have its own rules specific to you and your place of employment.

Nonetheless, society generally accepts that firefighters should uphold the symbolism and values of the firefighter cross at all times, especially when they’ve got it on their person!

Courteous behaviors consistent with the cross include:

  • Avoid cursing. To act with honor is to speak to people with respect.
  • Represent your Brotherhood.When you’re wearing the cross, you’re representing all firefighters. You are claiming that you are a member of the firefighting service. Therefore, you should show people the true character of firefighters.
  • Defend the Vulnerable.One of the most honorable tasks of the fire service is that it serves all people equally. When you see people in need, you, as a firefighter, step in to defend them.
  • Respect your Community.Firefighters form part of the backbone of any community. Please do not speak ill of the community while wearing the emblem, as it reflects poorly on the whole profession.

At the end of the day, while there aren’t any particular rules to follow when wearing the cross, you’ll look like a bit of a hypocrite if you’re not sticking to its values while also flaunting it.

Final Thoughts

The Firefighter cross – no matter who came up with it – is today a great symbol of pride and brotherhood. It is a badge that brings together all the firefighters’ best values, so they wear it with great satisfaction.

(Video) Maltese Cross

But, those who wear it must be mindful of the heritage and tradition of the cross and the men and women it represents. They must pass its values from generation to generation of firefighters who stand in the line of fire to keep the rest of us safe.

Sources

  1. International Association of Firefighters
  2. Country Fire Authority of Victoria
  3. St Florian Cross Image (used under Wikimedia Commons License)

FAQs

What do the 8 points of the firefighter Maltese cross represent? ›

The eight point Maltese Cross is the international symbol of the fire service's willingness to make great sacrifices in order to protect others from the ravages of fire.

What does fire fighter symbolize? ›

Firefighters are most often considered the “bravest” of the first responders, and as such, they wear fire department insignia that represents their heroism, sacrifice, and bravery.

What is the Florian cross? ›

Often confused with the Maltese cross, the Florian cross is what a majority of fire departments use. It carries the same, eight-point structure as the Maltese cross, but has rounded edges. Some historians indicate the Florian cross came into existence in the 4th century and was named after a Roman officer.

What does St Florian represent? ›

Saint Florian is the patron saint of firefighters. Legend says that during his life Saint Florian put out a massive fire with only one bucket of water, saving a village from ruin. Saint Florian is often depicted in artwork pouring water from a bucket or small vessel.

What do the 4 sides of the Maltese cross represent? ›

Various Meanings of the Maltese Cross Symbol. The four arms of the Maltese cross represent the four Cardinal Values, i.e. prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. As for the total of eight points on these four V-shaped arms, it is believed that they symbolize the eight obligations or aspirations of the knights.

What does each point of the Maltese cross represent? ›

The Maltese cross symbolizes courage, honor and bravery, due to its associations with the Knights. It represents 'fighting the good fight'. This is why the symbol is used around the world on medals of honor, in places such as Germany, Sweden, Poland and the Philippines.

Can anyone wear the Maltese cross? ›

It is fine to collect and display various badges and symbols along with insignia, but wearing them in public without a respectful cause is severely frowned upon.

What does 3 bugles mean? ›

3 Bugle / Trumpets

Deputy Chief is usually the second highest rank of a uniformed member in any given department, traditionally shown with 4 gold trumpets or 4 stars.

Who is the patron saint of firemen? ›

St Florian is the patron saint of firefighters. Florian (250-304AD) was a high ranking Roman Army officer in the Roman province of Noricum.

Why is it called a Maltese cross? ›

The Maltese cross is named after the island of Malta, which came to be the home of the Knights of St. John. The Knights of St. John existed during the 11th and 12 centuries.

What is the definition of a Maltese cross? ›

Definition of Maltese cross

1a : a cross formée. b : a cross that resembles the cross formée but has the outer face of each arm indented in a V — see cross illustration. 2 : a Eurasian herb (Lychnis chalcedonica) of the pink family cultivated for its usually scarlet flowers.

Where does the Maltese cross come from? ›

What's the history behind the cross? Although the Maltese cross is most famously associated with the Knights of Malta, as well as Malta itself as a country, it is thought the symbol evolved from a closely resembling cross found on coins minted in Amalfi (an Italian republic) during the 11th century.

What is an 8 pointed cross? ›

The Amalfi Cross – symbol of St John

Amalfi's symbol, a white eight-pointed cross, and the name 'St John' together represent the full history and heritage of St John – more than 900 years of volunteer commitment to serve humanity. The Cross also directly links the New Zealand organisation to St John worldwide.

Is the Maltese cross Catholic? ›

As the cross was a Catholic symbol adopted and worn by the Knights, many similar crosses can actually be found on flags, coats of arms, and other logos. However, it will always be most closely associated with these islands in the mediterranean and their story.

Is a Maltese cross religious? ›

Novato Fire District personnel wear the Maltese Cross as a patch on their uniform. From the days of the first crusade, the cross has been the symbol of the Christian warrior who pledged not only to fight in defense of the Holy Land, but also to protect the lives of his compatriots.

What are two fire service symbols and what does each one represent? ›

The ladder and pike pole are tools of the trade. Combined, the fire hydrant, ladder and pike pole symbolizes total readiness. The color red behind the scramble symbolizes our enemy - fire - and represents the courage of men and women who battle one of the deadliest perils of mankind.

What is the Maltese cross flag? ›

The Constitution provides that the National Flag of Malta consists of two equal vertical stripes, white in the hoist and red in the fly, with a representation of the George Cross, edged with red, in the canton of the white stripe; the breadth of the flag is one and a half times its height.

What is a fire trumpet? ›

Presentation trumpets were awarded to firefighters in honor of their service, or between fire companies during visits, competitions, and musters. This brass trumpet dates from the 19th century. The trumpet has small bands around the mouthpiece and bell, but lacks any engraving or adornment.

Why is the Maltese cross on the Queensland flag? ›

The Queensland Government believed it would be too difficult to adequately reproduce the head of the Queen on a flag. An alternative design, a Royal Crown superimposed on a Maltese Cross, was then submitted to London.

What does the biker cross mean? ›

In the United States, the Iron Cross also became adopted by outlaw bikers, more to signify rebellion or to shock than for a specific political ideology.

Does Maltese cross self seed? ›

Maltese cross, Lychnis chalcedonica, is native to Russia and hardy in zones 3 o 9. This perennial is relatively easy to grow in full sun and most soils. Avoid wet areas and poorly drained soils that tend to shorten its lifespan. This perennial self seeds readily resulting in plenty of seedlings to grow and share.

When did the fire service adopt the Maltese cross? ›

The first known connection between the Maltese Cross and the fire service appeared in New York in 1865 when the FDNY began using the symbol on its badges, according to Gary R. Urbanowicz in his book “Badges of the Bravest: A Pictorial History of Fire Departments in New York City.”

What percentage of Malta is Catholic? ›

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 453,000 (midyear 2019 estimate). According to a 2018 survey conducted by the newspaper Malta Today, 94 percent of respondents identified as Catholic, 3.9 percent as atheist, and 1.3 percent reported belonging to non-Catholic Christian denominations.

What does a blue fire helmet mean? ›

Capt's and Lt's---yellow helmet. Safety officer--- yellow helmet holds rank of Capt. Training officer--- red helmet. FF (state FF2)--- black helmet 3 blue stripes. FF (state FF1)- black helmet 2 yellow stripes.

What is the highest rank in fire department? ›

The Fire Chief is the highest ranking position that you can achieve in a fire department. However, in most cities and municipalities, the Fire Chief answers to the city manager or mayor.

Why do fire captains wear bugles? ›

The individual's rank is identified by insignia worn on the uniform collar and badge. The fire service uses a bugle as a display of job class. This is a historic symbol of the communication bugle that was once used by fire officers to amplify their commands on the fire ground prior to the use of handheld radios.

Who is the saint of lost things? ›

Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church. Remembered for his magnificent oratory skills and astute thinking, Anthony is the patron saint of lost things.

Which saint is the protector of law enforcement? ›

St. Michael is the patron saint of Law Enforcement such as Police Officers, Sheriff's Department, Corrections, FBI, CIA, ATF, Secret Service, Public Safety, District Attorney, Customs Officer, Homeland Security, US Marshals and other agencies.

Who is the patron saint of lost causes? ›

SAINT JUDE - St. Jude is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes because he was known for taking on any "lost cause" in order to demonstrate and share his trust in God.

What do the Knights of Malta do? ›

Knights of Malta, or Hospitallers in full (since 1961) Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta, Religious order founded at Jerusalem in the 11th century to care for sick pilgrims. Recognized by the pope in 1113, the order built hostels along the routes to the Holy Land.

What is Malta famous for? ›

What is Malta famous for? Malta is a popular tourist destination and known for its warm climate and breathtaking landscapes that serve as locations for major film productions. The archipelago is home to some of the oldest temples in the world, such as the Megalithic Temples of Malta.

What is a fireman's salute called? ›

Three-volley salute - Wikipedia.

Did the Knights Templar use the Maltese cross? ›

In US York Rite Freemasonry, the Knights Templar (Freemasonry) use the eight-pointed cross in the Order of the Knights of Malta.

What does a pointed cross mean? ›

The Passion Cross has sharpened points at the end of one or more of the cross members. It is also referred to as the Cross of Suffering representing the nails that Christ suffered at his Crucifixion. Passion, in this definition, comes from the Latin passio, which means suffering or enduring.

What is St John symbol? ›

His symbol as an evangelist is an eagle. Because of the inspired visions of the book of Revelation, the Byzantine churches entitled him “the Theologian”; the title appears in Byzantine manuscripts of Revelation but not in manuscripts of the Gospel.

What is are the urinary sediment s that appear as Maltese Cross under polarized light? ›

Round particles producing birefringent Maltese crosses under polarized light are commonly seen in the urinary sediment of patients with a nephrotic syndrome. The appearance of the Maltese crosses is due to the birefringence of lipid droplets, which consist mainly of cholesterol esters.

Why do crowns have crosses on them? ›

The Crown of life and the Cross together represents the rewards that await faithful believers in Heaven after the trials and suffering of this life. The Crown assures, and the Cross secures. Some experts interpret the Crown and the Cross to represent the life, ministry, glory, and message of Jesus Christ.

How do you get to be a Knight of Malta? ›

Membership is still by invitation only, but you no longer have to be a member of the nobility. In recent years, the organization has become increasingly American in membership. The leader of the order, referred to as the prince and grand master, is elected for life in a secret conclave and must be approved by the pope.

What was observed in Maltese cross tube? ›

The Maltese cross tube is used to demonstrate how cathode rays propagate in straight lines in the absence of any electric or magnetic field. This is shown by placing a Maltese cross in the path of the beam to throw a shadow on a fluo- rescent screen.

How do you type a Maltese cross? ›

Simply hold down the Alt Key and type 10016. When you lift the Alt Key, ✠ appears.

What is the definition of a Maltese cross? ›

Definition of Maltese cross

1a : a cross formée. b : a cross that resembles the cross formée but has the outer face of each arm indented in a V — see cross illustration. 2 : a Eurasian herb (Lychnis chalcedonica) of the pink family cultivated for its usually scarlet flowers.

What does the Amalfi cross represent? ›

Amalfi's symbol, a white eight-pointed cross, and the name 'St John' together represent the full history and heritage of St John – more than 900 years of volunteer commitment to serve humanity. The Cross also directly links the New Zealand organisation to St John worldwide.

Can anyone wear the Maltese cross? ›

It is fine to collect and display various badges and symbols along with insignia, but wearing them in public without a respectful cause is severely frowned upon.

What are two fire service symbols and what does each one represent? ›

The ladder and pike pole are tools of the trade. Combined, the fire hydrant, ladder and pike pole symbolizes total readiness. The color red behind the scramble symbolizes our enemy - fire - and represents the courage of men and women who battle one of the deadliest perils of mankind.

Is the Maltese Cross Catholic? ›

As the cross was a Catholic symbol adopted and worn by the Knights, many similar crosses can actually be found on flags, coats of arms, and other logos. However, it will always be most closely associated with these islands in the mediterranean and their story.

What is the Maltese Cross flag? ›

The Constitution provides that the National Flag of Malta consists of two equal vertical stripes, white in the hoist and red in the fly, with a representation of the George Cross, edged with red, in the canton of the white stripe; the breadth of the flag is one and a half times its height.

What is the eight pointed cross? ›

The famous eight-pointed Maltese cross is of mediaeval origin. It was first adopted by the ancient maritime republic of Amalfi, which lies on the Costiera Amalfitana, or Amalfi Coast, between Salerno and Naples in southwest Italy. Its emblem features an eight-pointed white cross on a black field.

What is the Maltese Cross called? ›

They chose the Cross of Calvary, which would later be known as the Maltese cross. During the Crusades, the enemies of the nights commonly used fire as a weapon. It was quite common for a Knight to have to risk his own life to save another Knight or extinguish a fire.

Where does the Maltese Cross originate? ›

What's the history behind the cross? Although the Maltese cross is most famously associated with the Knights of Malta, as well as Malta itself as a country, it is thought the symbol evolved from a closely resembling cross found on coins minted in Amalfi (an Italian republic) during the 11th century.

What does a pointed cross mean? ›

The Passion Cross has sharpened points at the end of one or more of the cross members. It is also referred to as the Cross of Suffering representing the nails that Christ suffered at his Crucifixion. Passion, in this definition, comes from the Latin passio, which means suffering or enduring.

When did the fire service adopt the Maltese Cross? ›

The first known connection between the Maltese Cross and the fire service appeared in New York in 1865 when the FDNY began using the symbol on its badges, according to Gary R. Urbanowicz in his book “Badges of the Bravest: A Pictorial History of Fire Departments in New York City.”

What percentage of Malta is Catholic? ›

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 453,000 (midyear 2019 estimate). According to a 2018 survey conducted by the newspaper Malta Today, 94 percent of respondents identified as Catholic, 3.9 percent as atheist, and 1.3 percent reported belonging to non-Catholic Christian denominations.

What does 3 bugles mean? ›

3 Bugle / Trumpets

Deputy Chief is usually the second highest rank of a uniformed member in any given department, traditionally shown with 4 gold trumpets or 4 stars.

What is a fireman's salute called? ›

Three-volley salute - Wikipedia.

Who is the patron saint of firemen? ›

St Florian is the patron saint of firefighters. Florian (250-304AD) was a high ranking Roman Army officer in the Roman province of Noricum.

Videos

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