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Manual of Ceremonial Artefacts

Instead of the “Challenge Coin”, I want to actually reflect what that coin’s true purpose is, which is the constant memorial in one’s pocket of the sacrifice.

Captain Terry Larson

Front side of CFD challenge coin. Inscribed 'Honouring Our Fallen. Integrity, dedication, valour' and showing two firefighters standing with fire engine and fire hall in the background

The Calgary Fire Department Challenge Coin.

The Memorial Coin
The Honour Guard began handing out the CFD Memorial Coin in celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Department. The coin shows the organisation’s insignia and is presented to all firefighters following the completion of their probationary period. The challenge tradition ensures that members are carrying their coin, and dates back to World War One. When challenged, members must be able to present their coin or suffer a forfeit. If they do, then the challenger forfeits instead! Its permanent presence in the pocket of a firefighter serves as a reminder of the vows taken to serve and protect the community, and the collective spirit of the department.

Ceremonial axe with black handle and silver head, showing the name of Harold Smith.

Ceremonial axe

Axes and Swords
The axe is a worldwide symbol of firefighting, going back to the early days of the profession. Although modern day firefighters use high tech equipment to gain entry to buildings, the axe remains associated with the risks of the job. The Honour Guard carry ceremonial pieces. They are marked with the insignia of the unit, to respect the memory of those who served before and the long history of firefighting.

Close up on insignia displayed on the ceremonial sword, silver with black hand grip. Shows the CFD, Honour Guard, IAFF and Local 255 insignia.

Ceremonial sword, showing the insignia of the Calgary Fire Department, the Honour Guard, and their relevant associations.

The sword links the military background of the Guard to the firefighting profession. The ceremonial piece is a reminder of the Guard’s origins, and a symbol of the professionalism of the unit. The inscribed names of the fallen nine links past and present. This acts as a reminder that tragedy can occur at any time on the job, and that their sacrifice should be constantly remembered.

Close up on silver bell inscribed Calgary Fire Department and Honouring Our Fallen with CFD crest. City hall can be seen in the background.

The ceremonial bell on display at the Fallen Firefighters Memorial at Tribute Plaza.

Ceremonial Bell
The Honour Guard bell is cast from melted CFD brass hose couplings. It is used most visibly at the City’s Fallen Firefighters Memorial. At the annual ceremony, the bell rings for every member to have lost their life as a result of their service. The death of a colleague was often marked by the ringing of fire bells across the city, and the sound of this tribute brings sadness to the hearts of firefighters across the world.