American flags were removed from three Arlington Fire District trucks Tuesday, sparking heated discussion on social media and disappointment from union members.
Fire Chief Tory Gallante was directed by the Board of Fire Commissioners to remove the flags from the backs of the trucks during Monday’s meeting. He declined to comment on specifics of why the decision was made but said he is “very disappointed with their direction.”
Arlington Fire Commissioner Chairman Jim Beretta said the board majority feel the flags are a “liability during normal operations for our people and other motorists,” and that the board had not been consulted before the flags were mounted.
The flags, which were only recently mounted on the trucks at the request of the union, were removed during a ceremony at Arlington headquarters in the Town of Poughkeepsie Tuesday.
Union President Joseph Tarquinio said he’s disappointed in the board’s direction, but “if we had to take them down, they had to be taken down the right way. At the time when the country needs unity, to do something like this … it’s next to flag-burning in my mind.”
There was an open discussion about the issue at Monday’s meeting “and each board member gave their opinion,” Beretta said.
Two board members “had no problem with it as long as it was safe and not in the way of operations,” Beretta added. Three board members “did have a problem with it for normal operations, citing liability and distraction to other motorists.”
Tarquinio is pleased with the outpouring of support — Gallante said dozens and dozens of messages have poured in from around the nation, decrying the board’s direction.
“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.”…