Origin of the Maltese Cross

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem began during the early 12th century as a group of Benedictine monks that had set up a hospital in Jerusalem after the First Crusade. The order's responsibilities transformed from healers to defenders of the Holy Land as Muslim forces began to invade the region. After the Fall of Jerusalem in 1187, the Order eventually moved to the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, and became known as the Knights of Malta. The symbol of the knights was an eight pointed star that became known as the Maltese Cross.

Origin of the Iron Cross

The Iron Cross also traces its origin back to Jerusalem during the 12th century, and to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The first Iron Cross was designed by Kaiser Frederic Wilhelm and was awarded in March of 1813 in the German city of Breslau as a campaign medal for acts of heroism. During the Napoleonic Wars, King Frederick William III of Prussia began awarding the Iron cross to soldiers who fought bravely against the invading French armies. Thanks to the negative impact German dictator Adolf Hitler has left upon civilization, the significance of the Iron Cross has become somewhat tainted. Prior to Hitler however, it has always been a glorious medal that represents Bravery, Heroism, and Leadership.

Adoption by the Fire Service

The Maltese Cross was first adopted by the Fire Department of New York in 1865, according to author Gary Urbanowicz in his book "Badges of the Bravest". The symbol of the Knights of Malta was chosen because of a legend involving a battle between the knights and Saracen forces during the invasion of the Holy Land. During this battle, Saracen forces began using naphtha, a highly flammable liquid, to ignite the knights in a wave of flame. The knights who escaped the blaze quickly rushed to the aid of their brethren, and extinguished the flames. This story became a representation of the courage of firefighters in the United States.

Maltese Cross

Iron Cross

Fire Department




The Logo of our Fraternity was designed by Godfather Rice & Godfather Gordon in 2011 and incorporates the traditional cross of the Knights of Malta, the Iron Cross, and the modern Maltese Cross. These symbols blend together in our Fraternity Logo in order to pay homage the evolution of the fire service.