Firefighter Uniform Shoulder PatchesFirefighter uniform patches can vary from department to department and may include state and local patches as well as an American Flag. Their locations also may vary from left to right shoulder depending on the unit. There is not a standard for location, number of patches, or their significance.
Fire Bugle Rank PatchesThe origin of the firefighter bugle rank patch comes from the use of “speaking trumpets” or bugles in the late 18th century as a way for officers to amplify their voices above the commotion of fire scenes. The bugle has become a symbol of leadership within a firefighting organization and firefighter bugle patches can easily identify rank within the organization as follows:
- Firefighters, engineers, technicians and Sergeants have no bugles.
- One bugle represents a Lieutenant
- Two vertical bugles represents a Captain
- Two crossed bugles represents a Battalion or District Chief
- Three crossed bugles represents a Deputy or Assistant Chief
- Four crossed bugles represents a Chief or Deputy Chief
- Five crossed bugles represents a Chief
Firefighter Rank PatchesSimilar to bugle rank patches, firefighter rank patches outline the rank structure but use bars instead of bugles.
- One bar represents a Lieutenant
- Two bars represents a Captain
- Three bars represents a Deputy or Assistant Chief
- Four bars represents a Chief or Deputy Chief
- Five bars represents a Chief
Fire Fighter Scramble PatchesA traditional firefighting symbol, the scramble, may contain a variety of elements that represent tools of the trade, both traditional and modern. Common items featured on a firefighter scramble patch may include a helmet, ladder, ax, fire hydrant and pike pole. The scramble icons utilized as well as the color of the patches vary by department. Regardless of the exact tools chosen, the scramble symbolizes a firefighter’s preparedness.
9/11 Commemorative PatchesCommemorative patches have been designed to pay tribute to fallen heroes lost in the September 11, 2001 tragedy. They typically will include recognition of firefighters, police and military and many departments have chosen to wear them on their uniforms as a sign of solidary and continual remembrance of the day that changed our lives forever.
No matter what firefighter patches are present on their uniforms, they all carry important significance and meaning and keep departments looking unified and polished.