Firefighters Cross Project

You can be an important part of the history of the fire service.

Fire Departments have unknowingly spread inaccurate information regarding the history of their prominent emblem, the "Firefighters Cross". The Firefighters Cross (FF Cross) has inappropriately been associated with prominent, and unrelated, cross designs such as the "Maltese Cross", "St. John's Cross" and "St. Florians Cross". None of these concepts relate to the current FF Cross in any way. The false information is so prevalent across the fire service that it threatens the historic integrity of our profession.

We are not the first to be mislead into adopting the wrong symbols for our profession. The medical profession is associated with the "Caduceus" instead of the correct symbol, the "Staff of Asclepius" (see Medical Symbol Information at the bottom of this page).

The medical profession has gotten so deep in their use of the wrong symbol that they are unable to pull out of it at this point - Don't let this happen to the fire service. Fire Street will be hosting the Firefighters Cross Project as an effort to get us back on track. If you have historical reference in the form of pictures or historical writings, then please submit them for review. Fire Street will be identifying prominent points to facilitate the actual history of our current FF Cross Design.

WRONG MEDICAL SYMBOL: Interestingly, many "medical" organizations are currently using the wrong symbolism. They have adopted the "Caduceus", a short rod entwined by two snakes and topped by a pair of wings. This is actually the caduceus or magic wand of the Greek god Hermes (Roman Mercury), messenger of the gods, inventor of (magical) incantations, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves.
Hermes was the god of commerce, eloquence, invention, travel and theft, and so was a symbol of heralds and commerce, not medicine. The words caduity & caducous imply temporality, perishableness and senility, while the medical profession espouses renewal, vitality and health.
CORRECT MEDICAL SYMBOL: The appropriate symbolism for medicine relates to Asclepius' staff.
Asclepius was most probably a skilled physician who practised in Greece around 1200BC (and described in Homer's Iliad). Eventually through myth and legend he came to be worshipped as Asclepius, the (Greek) god of Healing.
Medical schools developed, which were usually connected to temples or shrines called Asclepions (Asclepieia) dedicated to Asclepius.
So, knowing this, you would be proud of the EMS symbol, the Star of Life, that appropriately uses the staff of Asclepius.

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Mr. Bishop,
I have to agree with much of the topic. I am not putting everything into making people change from calling the Firefighter's Cross the Maltese Cross because I know that even informing them of the difference, many will still call it the Maltese Cross. I actually have yet to meet someone that calls it St. Florian's Cross, but I'm sure I will someday. I have pointed out to a few people I know that our Cross is actually the Firefighter's Cross and not the Maltese Cross and they just look at me as if I don't know what I'm talking about. Then I explain the difference and they seem to either not believe what I'm saying or not want to believe it. Either way, I just wanted to let you know that I am one firefighter that understands where you are coming from. Good luck to you with this project and maybe it will inform and influence enough poeple to one day have the Firefighter's Cross be recognized by all and by it's appropriate name.
Mr. Maddox,
I would like to take this time to state my opnion on what I have read in both the topic of this forum, this post and from other web sites. I am not out to fight against anyone's opinions, beliefs, historical information or the facts themselves. That being said, I simply would like to state that I do believe the history that you have put in this post and that does show the history of the Cross as originating from the Maltese Cross. I have read the information from your post on a couple of other websites, through simply looking up the term Maltese Cross on search engines. I simply believe that since it is modified from the Maltese Cross and used by the fire service, that the identity of the Firefighter's Cross in conjunction with the obligations from the bars and blades, it could use recognition as the Firefighter's Cross. That is just my opinion on this topic and I hope that it doesn't offend anyone.
I'm confused. Are we talking about the "Star of Life" or the firefighters "Maltese Cross?" I could understand if this was about the Star of Life because the Rod of Asclepius is within the six pointed star but what does this have to do with the Maltese Cross?
Thanks for your interest. It is always interesting how figherfighters, steeped in such tradition as they are, often do care about that tradition (if the think there are more important things to do). Perhaps it is only the vocal ones that say something because they feel differently. It is rather interesting that firefighters will say that the Firefighters Cross is not that big of a deal - and then refuse to face the reality of their misdirection. There are two levels of confusion, 1) the misuse of the term "Maltese"; and 2) the false statement that the cross, as well as firefighting history, comes from the crusades. The first is a language error, and those that do not care about the meanings of words just feel more comfortable with the words they know. The second is more fantasy that many just like the relationship with the crusades because it sounds good and matches the essence of the firefighter - BUT, when you see innocent firefighters making historic statements, and publishing the history in their websites, communications, and booklets -- then it seems wrong to mislead the public.
This discussion is about the Firefighters Cross, which has incorrectly been referred to as the "Maltese" Cross. This generalization has grown to the point that most official fire department statements will directly state that their emblem (Firefighters Cross) comes from the crusades - which has never been more than a fantasy.

The Star of Life relates to a similar symbolic problem that persists to this day -- where the field of medicine uses the wrong symbol. This is something that we want to avoid happening to the fire service - but few people seem to get it.
Hello Thomas.Frustrating isn't it when people purport to have read your original post, and the subsequent posts, but seem to have no comprehension of what they have read? (Not referring to you Chris) By no means do I mean all the respondants, just some... As for some of the 'history' that has been posted, well. How many times does one have to refer to the Romans having had organised firefighting around 700 years before the crusades? Which is where Florian comes into things? But again and again we're being told that the Knights of St John were the 'first firefighters'.

I was thinking of this subject last night, and it occured to me that the 'Firefighters Cross' really lends itself to your (North America) use. The broad arms are perfect for the inscription of FD names etc.. The Maltese Cross on the other hand, with it's very narrow arms, would not be anywhere bear as usable. In the same manner, those of use who use the Fire Star, a copy of the Star used by so many Orders of Knighthood, inscribe our own identifying emblem in the centre of the Star. Here is the version used by my Fire Service:

Ok, I must have misread something. I understood that the the Knights of St. John had bottles of what we know as a flamable liquid thrown at them first in battle then fire tourches thrown igniting their worriers, causing them to have to fight the fire and help their brothers, not that they were the first fire fighters.
Oh I am sorry!! I just read my own post that DOES say that they were the first firefighters!
Just gotta throw my 2 cents worth in...I think the key to the whole situation wqe have here is one word...STYLEIZED. iT APPPEARS TO ME THAT OUR HONORED SYMBOL IS A MODIFIED VERSION OF SEVERAL CROSSES,,AND IT WELL MAY BE. If you really look at the cross, it more closely resembles the iron cross,,,not the maltese cross. Looks to me like someone took the two of them and combined them to make our symbol. That said,,,I dont care where it came from,,,I am proud of it and damned proud to wear it.!!!!
And THAT is what I've been saying all along mate! Your cross is something to be proud of, something you can and should wear with pride!

And yes, along with Lutan1 and yourself, I too saw the closer resemblance to the Iron Cross. Is there anything wrong with that? Not that I can see - the various grades of the Iron Cross were issued to recognise valour in the field. And my father fought against the German Wehrmacht in France in the early part of WWII, so I'm allowed to have my opinion.

PS. Your opinion is worth more than 2 cents.
Agreed, Not mad just stating reserch.

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