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The Secret Behind Designing Fire Department Challenge Coins

Posted by: Jack Thompson
Date: September 23, 2022
Designing Challenge Coins for a Fire Department

Want to show your appreciation for your hard working firefighter team? Show them you care by designing memorable challenge coins.

Are you on a mission to design a range of custom challenge coins for your fire department?

Coming up with a meaningful design can be challenging, especially if you want it to be unique and stand out. Currently, there are over 29,000 fire departments in the US. Challenge coins have long been used in firefighting to bestow honor and build camaraderie.

If you're worried that the design for your custom firefighter challenge coins isn't special enough to honor the amazing work your department does, don't worry.

Here are some tips and secrets to designing fire department challenge coins that are meaningful, one of a kind, and unique to your department.

Fire Department Challenge Coin
Fire Department Challenge Coin

Take Your Time

One of the first tips when designing custom challenge coins is to take your time. This is especially important for firefighter coins.

Firefighters have one of the topmost stressful jobs in the world. What's more, they definitely aren't doing it for the money.

Firefighters earn a median salary, yet they risk their lives for the sake of saving others. They are subject to high amounts of psychological strain, work very long shifts, and have to serve multiple roles in emergency situations.

Firefighting requires immense amounts of bravery, selflessness, and mental fortitude. The aim of firefighter challenge coins is to show the firefighters in your department just how much they are appreciated and respected. Fire challenge coins are a symbol of honor, and the last thing you want to do is rush the design process.

If you're struggling to come up with a concept, and you don't have a very pressing deadline, sleep on it. Sometimes when you focus too hard, creativity and inspiration can't flow in. By giving your mind a break, you might find that the perfect idea or concept will drop into your mind.

Dig Into the Culture of Your Fire Department

Another important part of designing the perfect firefighter coins is to dig into the culture of your department.

Every fire department has its own things that make it unique or which have special meaning to its firefighters. These could be things like local monuments or landmarks, inside jokes, sayings, etc.

One example of this is the New York City fire dept challenge coins. The Empire State Building is a symbol for the whole country, but it's even more meaningful to those in New York City.

As a symbol of city pride, the NYC fire department chose to include the Empire State Building on their firefighter challenge coins.

Choose a Symbol That Resonates

Another way you can make your fire department coins special is by adding a traditional symbol associated with firefighting.

Some examples are the patron saint of firefighting, St Florian, the Maltese Cross, or the fireman's prayer. Dalmatians are another classic symbol, as dalmatians were traditionally used to calm firefighting horses.

You can also incorporate ladders, hoses, or any other classic fire rescue tools into your design. If you are designing personalized challenge coins for specific members of your team, you can also look into adding symbols for specific skills, such as first aid, or auxiliary equipment skills.

Go Classic With Your Colors

One of the ways to add personality to your fire dept coins is with colors. However, we wouldn't recommend that you stray too far away from classic choices.

Red is intrinsically related to fire, and incorporating red somewhere in your design is always a good choice when it comes to fire department coins. If you don't want to include red, orange is also a good choice.

Black is great for adding depth and definition to custom challenge coins. White pairs well with any other color, and if used with red has multiple symbolic representations, such as first aid.

Incorporate Your Department’s Moto

If your department has a motto or a slogan, this is ideal for including in the design of your firefighter coins. Mottos are meant to hold up morale and distill the spirit of the department.

If you're wondering where to place the moto, you can include it around the edge of your coin, or around the center emblem.

Fire Marshal Challenge Coin
Fire Marshal Challenge Coin

Pick an Appealing Background Texture

If you're feeling like the design for your custom challenge coins is looking a little plain and lacking in dimension, a great way to remedy this is by adding background texture.

Go 3D

If you still feel like your coin is not popping in the right way, you can also think about doing a 3D design. These create extra dimension and depth and do a great job at mimicking old gold and silver coins.

Here are some visual examples of what 3D custom challenge coins look like.

Remember That Custom Fire Department Coins Don’t Have to Be Round

If you really want to make your firefighter challenge coins unique, keep in mind that they don't have to be round.

If you want to create a design that breaks the mold of the traditional round challenge coin, you can design almost any other shape you want, within reason.

Alternatives shapes should be roughly the same size as a regular challenge coin, but they can be slightly smaller or bigger. If you're looking for some inspiration, take a look at our gallery of custom shape challenge coins.

Involve Your Team

Last but not least, get your team involved. Ask them for their ideas and input, and you might be surprised at what comes out. Once you have a few preliminary designs share them with your teams and see what they think.

Not only will you get more ideas and input this way, but it also makes the design process more collaboratory, further helping to build comradery.

Do You Need Help Designing Your Custom Challenge Coins?

Do you need help with the design of your custom challenge coins? Our design team is here to support you with finalizing your design and getting it ready for production.

We have been making high-quality custom challenge coins for almost 20 years. We offer fast, free quotes, and free artwork. We also offer free revisions and no commitment until you are completely happy with your design. Fill out a no-obligation quote form to get started on your fire department coin today!

Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After retiring from the military, Jack moved to Austin, Texas, to start a new chapter in his life. He has always been passionate about storytelling and decided to become a writer and podcaster. He runs a successful podcast where he discusses military history, shares personal anecdotes, and interviews other veterans. Jack also writes often about military traditions and history.

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All Rights Reserved. All symbols, logos and slogans depicted are registered trademarks of their respective owners. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense visual information does not imply or constitute endorsement. By submitting designs to, subsidiary of MetalPromo LLC, the purchasing party warrants that he, she, or it has/had the legal right to reproduce (or have reproduced) any logos or other images associated with his/her/its order. Samples on the site are for illustrative purposes only and are not for sale.
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