Sagamore Street fire, photo by Jim Mahoney/Boston Herald.

Photo by Jim Mahoney/©Boston Herald
The Maltese Cross - Smith and Warren Badge.

Courtesy of ©Smith & Warren Badge Co.

The Maltese Cross
Courtesy of The Public Safety Net

The badge of a fireman is the the Maltese Cross.  The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection . . . a badge of honor; it's story and tradition 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 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 Saracen's weapon was fire.

As the Crusaders advanced on the walls of the Saracens' city they were struck by glass bombs containing naphtha.  When they became saturated with the highly inflammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming tree into their midst.

Hundreds of Knights were burned alive.  Others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful fiery deaths.

Thus, these men became the first firefighters; and the first of a long list of courageous fire-fighters and first aiders.  Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow Crusaders who awarded each hero a badge of honor, a cross similar to the one firefighters wear today.

Since the Knights of 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 or 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, pride and honor - a ladder rung away from death.

- anonymous



Captian Johnston - photo by Robert P. Mitts.

Photo & text by ©Robert P. Mitts

On September 27, 1998, shortly after 2 a.m., a
phone alarm was received for a building fire  
at 921 Sutter Avenue in the East New York   
Section of Brooklyn.  Police officers from the
75th Pct arrived first and were screaming on 
the radio for the FD.  Upon arrival of Engine 
332 and Ladder 175, fire was venting out the
front door of this two story brick 25 x 75        
O.M.D.  Engine 332 Captian Johnston waits  
for water at the front door.                                

A Fire Fighter's Prayer

When I am called to duty, God,
Whenever Flames may rage
Give me strength to save a life
Whatever be its age.

Help me embrace a little child
Before it is too late
Or save an older person from
The horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert
And hear the weakest shout
And quickly and efficiently
Put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling
To give the best in me
To guard my friend and neighbor
And protect his property.

And if according to my fate
I am to lose my life
Please, bless with your protecting hand
My children and my wife.

Author Unknown


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Sagamore Street fire photograph by Jim Mahoney/©Boston Herald.  Used by permission of Jim Mahoney; photo can not be used without written permission of the photographer.  The Boston Herald -

The Maltese Cross Badge, photo courtesy of Stationhouse Leathers and Gear web site -
Photo used by permission of ©Smith & Warren/Everson Ross Badge Company -

The History of The Maltese Cross, courtesy of  The Public Safety Net web site -
Used by permission of Mitch Mendler, San Diego E.M.T. Paramedic FireFighter.

Brooklyn fire/Captain Johnston photo by ©Robert P. Mitts.  Used by permission of Robert Mitts; photo can not be used without the written permission from the photographer.  To see more of Robert's amazing fire photos, click to -

A Fire Fighter's Prayer, courtesy of the Boston Fire Department.  Used by permission of Curt Holzendorf. 
The Boston Fire Department -

Background pattern courtesy of the ©

Web page design and content - Eric Shindelbower