City officials order flags removed from firetrucks

Fire trucks in the Arlington district of the town of Poughkeepsie in New York have been ordered to remove American flags from their trucks after an order by the fire commissioners of that town.


The Poughkeepsie Journal reports:

Arlington Fire Commissioner Chairman Jim Beretta said the board majority feel the flags are a “liability during normal operations for our people and other motorists,” and that the board had not been consulted before the flags were mounted.

On Wednesday, Beretta told the Poughkeepsie Journal that he has reached out to Gallante and offered to sit down for a discussion with him “and whomever he wants to pull together … to have an initial conversation on how we might come to a compromise, some solution.”

Gallante said he, union members and board members are planning to meet on Thursday to “start discussing  flag matter.”

“I hope eventually this will get resolved,” Gallante said.

The flags were removed during a solemn ceremony on Tuesday.

The Washington Post explains the reason behind the ceremony:

Fire Chief Tory Gallante with the Arlington Fire District in Poughkeepsie said the Board of Fire Commissioners told him Monday to remove the two flags, which were fastened to the engine and the ladder truck.

“Obviously, I was disappointed with their directive,” he told The Washington Post.

Gallante said that about 50 firefighters, veterans and members of the community came out Tuesday afternoon for a small, impromptu ceremony to properly take them down. “The guys were upset about the decision and wanted to remove them with dignity and respect,” he said.


American flags have always been a stale on fire trucks, but they became even larger and more ubiquitous nation wide after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Firefighters were among the largest group of casualties that horrible day and their gallantry running into the burning buildings trying to save their fellow citizens have become an emotional and iconic symbol of the sacrifice first responders instinctively make on our behalf.

As a show of solidarity with their fallen brothers, firefighters have taken to flying these large flags on their trucks. And now, a bureaucrat says the flags are too distracting.

According to the Post, a meeting of the commissioners, the firefighters’ union and the department is set for Thursday to try to reach a compromise. Let’s hope that means the commissioners will unilaterally and unconditionally surrender and reverse their decision.

UPDATE: When first published, this post did not clearly note that this incident occurred in the town of Poughkeepsie versus the adjacent city of Poughkeepsie. A sharp-eyed reader pointed this out and I have clarified the distinction. I regret the oversight.  -LOC


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