Tips For Designing Fire Department Challenge Coins

Honoring the dedicated men and women of the Fire Department

Fire departments are the headquarters for the brave men and women who help save lives across the nation. One staple of every fire department is custom challenge coins. If you have decided to create a challenge coin for your department, we can help!

It's important that the design represents your department while inspiring teamwork and solidarity among your firefighters. Fire departments are one of the first organizations to adopt challenge coins outside of the military. These special mementos are more than just a simple keepsake; they represent hard work, determination, and loyalty. Let's take a closer look at firefighter challenge coins and how you can design your own. 

Design Basics, Classic Fire Department Images

Designing a challenge coin is a great way for fire departments to show their staff that they are part of something much bigger. These heroes heed the call of duty, are committed to rescuing those in danger, and deserve to be honored. Challenge coins are a  symbol of the risks firefighters take every day, demonstrating gratitude for the sacrifice and tireless work. Challenge coins are small but valuable, which is why fire department challenge coins shouldn't be rushed. 

Firefighting has a rich history and several symbols that evoke pride. The Maltese Cross is a great example, as it's one of the most common symbols found on firefighter challenge coins. The eight-pointed Maltese Cross dates back to the Crusades, and today it serves as a symbol of courage and pride. The "scramble" of classic fire rescue tools is another great element to include on challenge coins.

Use these details in conjunction with firefighting logos and imagery. Consider using tools such as axes, ladders, or a helmet, which represents your team's preparedness. Firefighter challenge coins may also feature a Dalmatian, if appropriate for your department. Dalmatians have long been seen as companions and mascots of firehouses, originally used to calm the horses pulling fire wagons. 

Choose Colors that Stand Out

When designing any challenge coin, consider choosing traditional colors to make your design stand out. Select traditional colors such as red, which is an iconic color for fire stations, and a bold way to make your design pop. Keep in mind that your coin has two sides. You may opt to make "fire engine red" the color of one side and use another color on the other side. The color of your coin will make it unique and outstanding, offering something different from other challenge coins made by other fire departments. You don't need a lot of color to make a difference. In fact, sometimes less is more! 

Add Specific Local Touches

Once you have a basic design in mind, think about adding details that reflect the personal mementos of your team. Inside jokes, local monuments, and familiar landmarks are great options. For example, the New York City fire department included the Empire State Building on their coins. These unique details add a personal touch that is easily distinguishable.

You can also showcase specialized skills in the design. This could be for handling hazardous materials or other areas of expertise. Mascots that represent your fire department are a nice addition as well. It might be an animal, character, or statue that is recognizable to your department. Add something serious, or create something fun and light-hearted. Some fire departments will use pictures of a local firehouse, fire engine, or a firefighter. The options are up to you, as you have full creative control over your challenge coin. 

Tell a Story

A challenge coin should tell a story, which is why it's important to include a special phrase or motto. It's simple to add the name of your station, but a quote or saying that is significant will add to the meaning of your coin. Challenge coins are meant to motivate, and they serve as reminders of being a member of the team. Finding the perfect words during a difficult time is what makes challenge coins so great. Include the philosophy of your organization, a particular role, or a slogan that inspires. While the imagery is eye-catching, words can be even more impactful. 

Of course, when designing a challenge coin for any team, get the group involved. There is no better way to create something special than by involving your team in the process. Open a discussion with members and get feedback on the challenge coin they would like to see. This will help you gather ideas and make them feel like a part of the design process. Be sure to limit the options and have them vote on a final design. A reputable coin provider will work with you to ensure the final design is the best it can be. 

Here at, we have been designing and producing challenge coins for over fifteen years. Firefighters are among our most heroic first responders and deserve special challenge coins representing their bravery and acts of public service. We have carefully crafted custom coins to honor the courage of one of the worlds' most selfless professions through the years. Firefighter challenge coins are full of meaning and have become highly sought-after collector's items as well. 

If you want to design a stunning challenge coin for your fire department, we’re here to help. We make it quite easy as well! For more information, give us a call toll-free at (855) 272-8451 or email us. You can also fill out our no-obligation free quote form. We'd be honored to work with you on the perfect challenge coins for your department.

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.