Faced with growing scrutiny across the country, a fire district in New York that earlier this week had banned the practice of flying flags on fire trucks has somewhat relented and will now allow firefighters in Poughkeepsie to fly a flag on one truck.
The Arlington Fire Department Board of Commissioners said on Monday that they had not granted permission for the flags to be flown on the back of trucks which have been there since 9/11. Three of the five commissioners voted to remove the flags citing safety and liability concerns, according to poughkeepsiejournal.com.
U.S. flags that had been on three Poughkeepsie firetrucks located within the district were removed Tuesday and caused an uproar on social media, talk radio and TV and cable news.
Following the outcry, commissioners met Thursday with Poughkeepsie Fire Chief Tony Gallante and members of Arlington Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 2393.
“My personal feeling is that the size of the flags on there were not an issue,” Gallante said. “Obviously when we meet, we’re willing to talk about anything, but I don’t feel that the size of the flags that were on there presented any problems.”
After the meeting, the Arlington Fire Department Board of Commissioners released a statement regarding the compromise.
“We have agreed to install a flag on an engine and continue to work together to develop a standard and protocol. The Arlington Fire District recognizes and values the importance and symbolism of the American flag,” officials said in a statement.
Some flag proponents who want to see all three flags returned to the trucks protested the board’s latest ruling allowing only one flag to be displayed on one truck. About 50 people outside fire district headquarters chanted “all the flags, not one” as motorists drove past.
Shortly after the compromise was reached, a smaller flag measuring 3-foot by 5-foot was hung in place of the larger 4-foot by 6-foot flag. Fire officials would not comment on whether the smaller flag was part of the agreement.