Any number of firefighting associated tools or vehicles can be and have been used as symbolic objects on commemorative coins. But the firefighter, as an individual or as a team in some kind of heroic position, is perhaps more prevalent as a featured coin object.
The events of 9/11 placed firefighters squarely front and center as a symbol of the American hero, which in turn spiked the popularity of immortalizing the firefighters’ sacrifices on that day in the form of commemorative coins. While firehouse coins had already been a long tradition in many fire departments, the interest by the general public in such coins commemorating the firefighter became awakened.
Firefighting objects, among them the fire engine, historic fire vehicles, the firefighter’s helmet, the ax, shovels, the hook and ladder, the fire hydrant, and firefighting bugle, have been frequently used on such coins. Sometimes these are used singly, sometimes in some combination with each other. Some have special significance.
The Bugle, an antique is shown at right, has long been a symbol of communication and has often been used as a name for newspapers, as in the Daily Bugle. In firefighting, it is symbolic of the trumpets and megaphones that were historically used to coordinate firefighting efforts. In that venue it represents clear communication and command, and is often used on coins directed to fire chiefs.
The Ladder allows the firefighter to rise up to meet the fire, and symbolizes a firefighter’s willingness to rise up and overcome the challenges and dangers faced in the execution of duty.
The Helmet offers head protection and represents a commitment to safety, as well as suggesting the importance of and respect for knowledge.