How to Design Your Very Own Fire Department Challenge Coins

Fire departments house the brave men and women that help save lives all across America. Here’s how you can design fire department challenge coins today.

If you’ve decided to create a challenge coin for your fire department, then you’ve come to the right place.

It’s important that the design represents your unique organization as well as inspires solidarity among your firefighters.

Fire departments are one of the first organizations to adopt challenge coins from the military. We believe these special mementos are more than just simple keepsake items but a representation of so much more.

Fire departments house the brave men and women that help save lives all across America. Here’s how you can design fire department challenge coins worthy of your firefighters today.

Why Create Fire Department Challenge Coins?

The tradition of challenge coins in the military and the pride they represent is a perfect match for the dedication to service to others that firefighters embody. Designing a challenge coin is one of the ways fire departments have been able to show their firefighters that they are part of something greater.

This group of heroes who volunteer to heed the call of duty is committed to rescuing those in danger. The challenge coin, although a small token, has become a priceless symbol of the risks they take every day and the immense gratitude that is felt for their service.

With so much weighing on this small, but powerful coin, the design for your fire department challenge coin can’t be rushed.

Find Your Perfect Symbol

Firefighting has a rich history and along with that includes a number of symbols that invoke pride. Take for example the Maltese Cross. This is one of the most common symbols found on firefighter challenge coins.

The eight-pointed Maltese Cross dates back tot he Crusades and is often used today as a symbol for the courage that firefighters stand for.

You might also consider a “scramble” of classic fire rescue tools which is another element used in firefighting logos and imagery. An arrangement of classic fire rescue tools such as axes, ladders, or a helmet, represents the preparedness of your team for anything.

Lastly, you may want to use a Dalmation if appropriate for your firefighting team. Dalmations have long been seen as the companions and mascots of firehouses. They were used in older times to calm the horses pulling fire wagons towards a blazing building.

Bold Colors

When choosing colors for your fire department’s challenge coin, you might want to go with a traditional red. This is an iconic color for fire stations and is also a bold choice for your coin.

Fire Department Challenge Coins

Keep in mind that your challenge coin has two sides. You may want to make “fire engine red” the color of one side and then choose another color to represent your team on the other.

The color of your coin can truly make it unique and stand apart from challenge coins made by other fire departments. You don’t have to choose a lot of colors to make a bold statement. In fact, when it comes to color choice, sometimes less is more.

Make It Your Own

Once you have a basic design in mind it might be fun to create elements of the coin that reflect personal mementos of your team. This could even be an inside joke or local monuments and familiar landmarks.

The New York City fire department included the Empire State Building on their coins, making it easily distinguishable from other fire departments.

Your team may even specialize in certain skills that you want to highlight on the coin. This could be handling hazardous materials or other areas of expertise that your unit is proud of. 

What mascot best represents your fire department? This could be an animal, character, or statue that is recognizable to your organization. It can be either serious or fun depending on what you feel would be appropriate.

Some fire departments will use pictures of a local firehouse, fire engine, or a firefighter in full gear on their challenge coin design. This is your challenge coin to share, so you can make it as unique as you want.

Tell Your Story

Fire Department Challenge Coin

It’s always nice to add a special phrase or motto to your challenge coin. It’s simple to add the name of your station but including a quote or saying that is significant to your team can make it extra special.

Challenge coins are meant to motivate and be reminders of being a proud member of the team. Finding the perfect words during difficult times is part of what makes challenge coins so powerful.

This could be the philosophy of your organization, a particular role, or words to live by. While the imagery is a major part of the design, the words used can be just as impactful.

If you’re not sure where to begin, there are plenty of ready-made designs that can help get you started.

Work With Your Team

There’s no better way to create something your firefighters can be proud of than involving them in the process. Open up a discussion with members of your organization to hear what they would want to see on the challenge coin. 

This can not only help you gather up ideas but will also make them feel part of the process. Then they’ll be extra proud to show off the final results.

You might want to limit the options to a few choices and have them vote on the final design. Otherwise, it could get overwhelming trying to meet everyone’s expectations. Luckily, challenge coin producers will often provide graphic designers to work with you to make your final design the best it can be.

Ready to Get Started?

Whether you are ready to go or still struggling to get started on your fire department challenge coins, we can help.

Our variety of challenge coin designs and options will help you begin the process of creating the perfect coin for your indispensable team. 

Head on over to our site for more information on creating your challenge coins today.

Coins for the Brave: A Background of the Prestigious Firefighter Challenge Coin

A Background of the Prestigious Firefighter Challenge Coin

Firefighter challenge coins are reserved for a special kind of brave – learn everything you need to about earning one of these prestigious coins, here.

There’s an old saying that goes “All men are created equal, then a few become firemen”. It hails firemen as a cut above the average man because of his bravery and skill in the face of a blaze.

A census from 2015 reported that there were about 1,160,450 local firefighters in the United States. Each one of these people is part of a force tasked with protecting us like the military or police forces.

One of the ways firefighters are being honored is by the use of a firefighter challenge coin. Each coin has a special design and with an event or specific honor in mind. Then firefighters who show dedication above and beyond the call of their duty receive a coin.

But what is a challenge coin? Where did they come from? What do these coins stand for? And how do people earn them?

Find the answers to all these questions and more in our ultimate guide to the challenge coins for firefighters. Keep reading to learn the history of these honorable emblems, and what they look like.

What Is a Challenge Coin and What Is Their History?

A challenge coin is a small metal disk a bit larger than the United States currency coins, engraved with beautiful designs of special significance.

There is no definitive answer for when the first use of the challenge coin concept came about. Many people suggest that the first appearance was during World War I when soldiers earned challenge coins for outstanding bravery.

Soldiers would use these coins as a way to have healthy competitions with each other. Someone might yell “coin check” or slam a challenge coin down on the table and if any of the people in that unit do not have their challenge coin, that person then buys all the others a round of drinks. Some soldiers would challenge each other using the coins as betting tokens. 

Soldiers with the most challenge coins meant they were more prestigious and noteworthy than others. Losing your challenge coin was an embarrassment and merited ridicule.

Because many people became firefighters after leaving the military, the tradition of giving and trading challenge coins came into the private sector along with them. 

Most challenge coins are larger than any coins that we use in the United States for money, but still small enough to fit in your palm. They are often made with thick bronze, silver, or other metal and engraved on both sides.

Another common look for challenge coins is to have one or both sides feature designs made in colored enamel.

Common Firefighter Challenge Coin Designs

Challenge coins given to firefighters tend to have a few different symbols, each signifying something different.

The most common designs engraved onto firefighter coins are:

  • Saint Florian – Who is the patron saint of firefighters, chimney sweeps, soap makers etc.
  • Star of Life – Representing the 6 main tasks a rescuer takes on in the line of duty
    • Detection of danger
    • Reporting
    • Rapid response
    • On the scene care
    • Care in transit to the hospital
    • Transfer to definitive care specialized for the patient
  • The Maltese Cross – The standard logo of firefighters around the world. It also acts as a badge of honor and a symbol of protection
  • Fire Chief Engraved coin – One of the highest honors to a fireman given to those who show great leadership skills
  • The Firefighter Helmet – A historic design that dates back to the early 1900s when firefighter helmets were leather and metal. Now, this classic design is an international symbol for firefighters
  • Fire Chief Nickel Coin – A coin reserved only for fire chiefs and often made with antique nickel

Other challenge coins feature the firefighters’ prayer or other prayers, either on one or both sides, to wear when in uniform as a symbol of protection from harm.

How Do You Get a Challenge Coin?

There are a few different ways to collect challenge coins for firefighters. For the most part, you will need to be a firefighter to receive a challenge coin, but some are available for buys to buy as well.

By far, the easiest way to get one of these firefighter coins is to buy it. Many firemen sell them online on sites like eBay or you could attend a firehouse expo where coins are almost always for sale.

But, if you want to get a challenge coin the traditional way, you will need to face some serious danger.

Some fire departments will give all their firemen a special challenge coin to carry with them to protect them from the flames.

Often, firefighters will receive challenge coins for doing something extraordinary or showing particular excellence.

Another common event where firefighters get challenge coins is when tragedy strikes and some members of the team lose their lives. Memorial challenge coins have special images or quotes engraved on them that represent the event and are then given to the remaining members of the team.

Other firehouse related events can also merit distribution of challenge coins. Fire department anniversaries, community parades, and the opening of new firehouses are only a few special events where you might find coins.

One thing is certain, if you earned a challenge coin the hard way, it will serve as a badge of honor for you and your family for many years to come.

Where Can Your Fire Department Get Coins Made?

The honor and significance attached to a firefighter challenge coin are very important to firefighters and their families as well as other members of the community. It is imperative that the coin’s design and handling have the highest level of care and respect.

We take great pride in our wide variety of custom challenge coins for all branches of the military and private sector forces. We boast a 100% satisfaction and lowest price guarantee for our coins because we know we are the best at what we do!

Let us help you make your next set of challenge coins something special. If you have an idea for a challenge coin that you would like to make into a reality or if you have any other questions about challenge coins, contact us today!