The History Of Firefighting and Firefighter Challenge Coins

The History Of Firefighting and Firefighter Challenge Coins

Honor firefighters' dedication and sacrifice with custom coins

Challenge coins are created as a token of recognition and acknowledgment. They have a long history in the military and also as a way to honor law enforcement officers and other public servants. Custom coins have become increasingly popular for firefighters, used to thank them for their courage and bravery. 

Challenge coins are an ideal way to recognize those who risk their lives for the safety of others, but did you know that there is a long history of firefighting and the firefighter challenge coin? 

Firefighters have been keeping the world safe since the Roman Empire. It reportedly all began with Emperor Augustus of Rome, who created the first firefighting crew in the first century A.D. However, there are also rumors of actual water pumps used to extinguish fires in ancient Egypt. 

Firefighting became more organized in the 17th century after the Great Fire in London. 

In 1673, Dutch inventor Jan Van der Heyden developed the first fire hose, changing firefighting across the world. In the United States in 1678, the first fire company started in Boston. 

In 1736, Benjamin Franklin established the Union Fire Company in Philadelphia. However, it wasn't until the Civil War that fire departments became universal across the country. They were often funded by local, state, and federal governments. Molly Williams became the first female firefighter in New York City in 1818.

Firefighter challenge coins have been presented for years as a way to honor accomplishments, notable achievements, and to honor fallen comrades. They have become a way to commemorate the lives of firefighters across the country. 

Firefighter coins typically include tools of the trade such as ladders, hoses, helmets, and more. Another popular element for firefighters challenge coins is St. Florian, the patron saint of firefighters. St. Florian was a native of Austria, eventually becoming an officer of the ancient Roman army, leading a squad of soldiers to fight fires and save lives. 

The St. Florian’s Cross features wide arms with rounded curves and a circular center, and is frequently misidentified as a Maltese Cross. A true Maltese Cross has its own distinct appearance with narrow arms that come to a shallow V-shape in the center. That design is associated with the Knights Hospitaller, known as the Order of St. John.

At, we have created custom coins for fire departments across the country. We understand the importance and impact of challenge coins. With nearly 20 years’ experience, we know what it takes to create custom coins with value and meaning. Want to find out more? Get a free quote or email us with any questions. Let us show you how easy ordering custom firefighter challenge coins can be!

Jesse Daugherty

Jesse Daugherty


Hello, I'm Jesse Daugherty, a music enthusiast, sports aficionado, and an avid supporter of the arts. I'm a writer and content creator. For the past 5 years, I've shared my knowledge of custom challenge coins and other promotional products, exploring their designs, meaning, and purpose.