US flags to be put back on New York town’s firetrucks after outcry

Once described as a liability risk, American flags will be reinstalled on some firetrucks in a New York community after an outcry followed the local fire commissioners’ orders to take them down.

Fire commissioners in the Arlington Fire District in the town of Poughkeepsie had ordered the large flags removed from the back of three fire engines earlier this month.

The flags were taken off the trucks in a formal ceremony Aug. 16.

“If we had to take them down, they had to be taken down the right way,” firefighters’ union President Joseph Tarquinio told The Poughkeepsie Journal at the time. “At the time when the country needs unity, to do something like this … it’s next to flag-burning in my mind.

The order to remove the flags by the five-person Board of Fire Commissioners was based on concerns about possible U.S. flag code violations and potential safety risks to firefighters and motorists.

Arlington Fire Chief Tory Gallante initially approved the installation of flags, provided they were properly maintained, correctly mounted and the union paid for them. Gallante said a mechanic checked the flags to make sure they were mounted correctly.

Arlington Fire Commission Chairman Jim Beretta, who wanted the flags removed, claimed that the board was not consulted about the flags.

An agreement announced Thursday will allow smaller 2-by-3-foot American flags on three of the district’s front-line engines, which are the firetrucks used most frequently.

Amid the debate over the mid-August decision, officials decided to allow a large flag on one firetruck. That compromise failed to quell the controversy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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