The Saracen's weapon was fire! As the Crusaders advanced on the walls of the city, they were attacked by glass bombs containing naphtha. When they became saturated with the highly flammable liquid, the Saracens hurled a flaming tree into their midst. Hundreds of Knights were burned alive. Others risked their lives to save their brothers in arms from dying painful deaths. Thus, these men became the first fire fighters...and the first of a long list of courageous Fire Fighters. Their heroic efforts were recognized by fellow Crusaders who awarded each hero with a badge of honor- a cross similar to the one Fire Fighters wear today.
Since the Knights of St. John lived for nearly four centuries on a little island in the Mediterranean Sea, named Malta, the Cross became known as the Maltese Cross. The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection. It means that the Fire Fighter that wears this Cross is willing to lay down his life, just as the Crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow men so many years ago. The Maltese Cross is a Fire Fighter's Badge of Courage.