The history of the HVFD goes back to the beginnings of our community - Hardin, MT in the early 1900's.
At that time, a group of men would get together whenever a fire call was heard - to ensure the quick 'dousing' of a fire.
The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection-a badge of honor.
When a courageous band of crusaders, known as the Knights of St. John, fought the Saracens for possession of the Holy Land, they encountered a new weapon unknown to European warriors. It was a simple, but horrible device of war; it wrought excruciating pain and agonizing death upon the brave fighters of the Cross. The Saracens' 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...a ladder-rung away from death.
Origin of the Maltese Cross
Its story is hundreds of years old.
Fires were very common in those days - with the wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, candle use and more. Putting out a fire quickly was imperative to keep it from spreading to the other wood homes, stores, sidewalks, etc. that were springing up with the new growth.
Through WWI and WWII and the Korean War, many men would serve a small time
- only to leave to serve their country. Others served many years.
It looks as if the first 'official' and 20 yr retiree volunteer fireman in Hardin was Jens Kalberg in 1946.
The department has had several consecutive generations of family volunteer fire-fighters serving in the city. The children are raised watching their fathers serve as Volunteer Fire Fighters, join in with the parades, and thus, develop the desire to do the same when they qualify.