How Do Firefighters use Custom Pins?

October 16, 2023

There are hundreds of years of history behind the custom pins firefighters wear. There are many types of pins and insignia awarded to firefighters.

Some representing their history and origins, others representing their rank and position or recognition for many years of service. PinProsPlus designs, manufacture, and delivers stand-out custom firefighter pins to these heroes across the world.

Table of Contents

‍Identity and pride

European crusaders once faced natives who mainly used fire as a weapon. They were considered the first firefighters when they came to the aid of their countrymen. In today's world, the Maltese Cross custom pins symbolize Malta's knights and are worn by most firefighters for identity and professional pride.


The first firefighters in North America used to issue orders through a large megaphone worn around their necks, called a bugle. People began to recognize the person in charge by their wearing of the bugle. The bugle has been replaced with more sophisticated communication systems, but its meaning survives. Firefighters wear custom pins that feature a bugle to indicate that they are lieutenants.


The armed forces heavily influenced the fire service's professional history, so they often use military-inspired badges. Fire departments were first professionally organized by Napoleon. A French general ordered the French army to guard Paris with manual pumps during the 1800s. Today, firefighters wear custom pins that feature two bars or bulges to designate their rank as captain.

Officer recognition

The military sometimes designates a battalion chief by giving him a star, three military bars, or three bugles. Their stars could be as many as three, depending on their position as the district chief. Firefighter custom pins with these stars signal the officer's position as they rise in a natural progression. District chiefs wear five stars, and assistants and deputy chiefs have four.

A tradition of trust

Historically, American fire departments have maintained a strong tradition dating back to Benjamin Franklin. But the service dates back centuries to when Franklin organized Philadelphia's first fire company that became a model for volunteer works and then career fire departments across the young nation.

A fire department is much less than a group of people solely responsible for fighting fires in their area. The fire service is now the country's all-hazards response team.

Custom firefighter pins have a unique shape and design that symbolize the department's trust and years of service. Many departments use both Maltese cross-style and shield design pins and badges. Ironically, both types of these share a common origin - the Order of St. John and the Knights of Malta.

Dedication to serve

The shields used by the knights of Malta are directly related to the American Fire Service and United Nations Red Cross designs. Pins designed after these badges are a symbol of courage and bravery, and willingness to sacrifice the self-insurmountably-for the good of others.

Legend says the knights from almost a millennium ago devoted themselves to serving the less fortunate. They were sworn to the service of others defined by integrity, honor, and gallantry. What they may have called chivalry or courage - is what defines our own service today.

All-access pins

In their work fighting fires and protecting the general welfare of all Americans, firefighters are the only ones authorized to enter homes, businesses, or properties without a search warrant. Every other agency in the Department of Homeland Security doesn't have this privilege.

Take a moment to reflect on it. In the ongoing discussion about personal privacy worldwide, there is a long-standing law in the United States that allows firefighters to enter a property even without the owner's permission to put out a fire that would cause devastating damage to others if ignored neighborhood. Custom firefighter pins are the tickets of unfettered access that the brave men and women need to do their jobs.

Responsibility and ethics

Firefighters, by nature, are welcomed into residences because people know they will make their lives better. There is a great deal of responsibility that goes along with gaining the public's trust, and firefighters in other countries are no exception. They hold each other to a higher standard of conduct because society has all of us to a shared trust, and why do they suffer when someone breaks that trust through misconduct or wrongdoing.

The custom pin represents trust, accountability, and the higher standards that these men and women uphold. Are you in the firefighting service, or would you like to honor anyone in this profession? Contact PinProsPlus today to start the design process for unique, timeless custom pins that your fighter will love. Call (801) 544-1005.

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