Firefighters in New York ordered to remove U.S. flags from trucks

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Updated Aug 19, 2016
Firefighters in Poughkeepsie, New York were told Monday to remove U.S. flags from their trucks. (Photo posted by Michael Skapetis on Facebook.)Firefighters in Poughkeepsie, New York were told Monday to remove U.S. flags from their trucks.
(Photo posted by Michael Skapetis on Facebook.)

Fire commissioners in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. ignited plenty of controversy this week by ordering firefighters there to remove American flags from their trucks.

The Arlington Fire Department Board of Commissioners said they did not grant permission for the flags to be flown on the back of the trucks which they say is a liability and a distraction to other drivers. They ordered the flags to be removed Monday.

Since then, outraged fire officials, residents and flag supporters across the country have taken to social media to voice their concerns.

“I’m away right now training to deploy next month overseas…My brothers and sisters are fighting for that flag and have died for that flag. I strongly support the firefighters and the union fighting to put the flags back on the trucks and engines. Stay safe!” Arlington resident Stephen Joseph writes on the Facebook page of Arlington Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 2393.

On that same page, Darren Overbaugh writes, “Don’t let anyone tell you to take your flag down. Kick that politician out.”

Local 2393 Union President Joseph Targunio spoke out against the commission’s decision following a somber flag ceremony during which union members reverently removed the flags.

“If we had to take them down, they had to be taken down the right way,” Targunio told “At a time when the country needs unity, to do something like this, it’s next to flag burning in my mind.”

Not all firefighters are opposed to removing the flags. On Facebook, firefighter Steve Greenfield writes, “Grow up. Emergency response is serious business. Don’t manufacture a controversy. The commissioners aren’t attacking the flag.

They’re protecting public safety, as well as protecting flags from damage in accordance with the U.S. flag code, which, as a firefighter and an Eagle Scout, I happen to care about, and you should, too. The issue is not the flag. It’s the mounting. Look: problem solved.”

Below his comment, Greenfield posted a picture of a firetruck with an American flag painted on the side.

Those who oppose the commission’s order to remove the flags from Arlington fire trucks will be hosting a rally Saturday at noon at the Croft Corners Fire Station in Poughkeepise, N.Y. Firefighters, veterans and the public are invited to attend. Many are hoping that the backlash over the flags’ removal will cause commissioners to reverse their decision.

What do you think? Should U.S. flags be flown from vehicles? Or should they be displayed differently like Greenfield suggests? Let us know in your comments below.