A Board of Fire Commissioners ordered the removal of American flags from fire trucks in an upstate town in New York, calling them a “liability.”
Three flags were removed from fire trucks by firefighters in the Arlington Fire District during a flag removal ceremony in the town of Poughkeepsie.
Flag removal ceremony at Arlington Fire District headquarters pic.twitter.com/HsSRbIadtL
— Nina Schutzman (@PoJoNSchutzman) August 17, 2016
Arlington Fire Commissioner Chairman Jim Beretta told The Poughkeepsie Journal that the board felt the flags were a “liability during normal operations for our people and other motorists.” He added that the board was never consulted on the decision to permit the flags on the trucks.
Beretta told The Journal that two members of the board did not have a problem with the flags being mounted as long as it was “not in the way of operations” but three members did not want the flags on the fire trucks because it was a “liability and distraction to motorists.”
“If we had to take them down, they had to be taken down the right way,” Union President Joseph Tarquinio told The Poughkeepsie Journal. “At the time when the country needs unity, to do something like this … it’s next to flag-burning in my mind.”
Fire Chief Tory Gallante agreed to the initial installation of the flags as long as they were mounted properly and were paid by the union because the union requested them.
Beretta said that the board never had a formal vote for the removal of the flags but the decision was based on the boards majority.
“This past Saturday I saw one of our pumpers on Hooker Ave. going to a call. It had a physical flag mounted to the back of it. None of the board was aware, or consulted that these flags were being affixed to the apparatus,” Beretta said, one of the board members who was in favor of the flag removals.
“I think (for) a lot of people … (the issue) crosses political lines, moral lines, religious lines,” Tarquinio said. “It’s the flag of this country.” Tarquinio told The Journal.