The Badge of a firefighter is called a Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection and a badge of honor. The New York City Fire Department explains: The first firefighters were a band of crusaders known as the Knights of St. John. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow crusaders with a badge of honor -- a cross similar to the one firefighters wear today. Since the Knights of St. John lived on a little island in the Mediterranean Sea named Malta, the cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross.