Firefighters in Arlington, NY, are steaming after they were asked to remove American flags from their firetrucks for fear they might distract motorists. Arlington Fire Chief Tory Gallante says the firefighters' union recently asked to put flags on their trucks and Gallante approved the plan after the flags were properly secured and "checked by our mechanics." But then the Board of Fire Commissioners got word. During a Monday meeting—in which the board approved out-of-state training for firefighters, two new engines or pumpers, and new patches for uniforms—three of five board members objected to the flags "citing liability and distraction to other motorists," Board Chairman Jim Beretta tells the Poughkeepsie Journal.
The trucks already carry American flag stickers and "we were clear that we had no problem with them or with flags being mounted … for parades and ceremonies," says Beretta. But Union President Joseph Tarquinio says the board's decision is "next to flag-burning in my mind," adding support for the firefighters has poured in from across the country. Beretta says he has offered to meet with Gallante and other firefighters to discuss "how we might come to a compromise, some solution," possibly Wednesday. Last month, firefighters in California were asked to remove an American flag in honor of fallen police officers from a truck for fear it would block its lights or make firefighters targets of violence, reports NBC Los Angeles. (Read more firefighters stories.)