A decision by the board of fire commissioners serving Poughkeepsie, New York sparked outrage when the panel ordered Arlington Fire District Chief Tony Gallante to remove the American flags from the rear of his trucks, the Poughkeepsie Journal first reported.
Arlington Fire Commissioners Chairman Jim Beretta said three of his members called the flags a “liability” and a “distraction to motorists.”
Two other members said the department could keep the flags posted as long as they didn’t interfere with operations.
Beretta said the board had not been consulted before the flags were posted on the trucks.
A ceremony was held Tuesday in the town, about 80 miles north of New York City, to formally remove the flags.
Hundreds of citizens expressed their objection to the move, while others said that flying flags from the trucks had indeed violated federal code, the paper reported.
Local firefighters’ union president Joseph Tarquinio agreed that the move was ill-conceived, calling the removal of Old Glory “next to flag burning” at a time when the “country needs unity.”
“I think for a lot of people, [this] crosses political lines, moral lines and religious lines. It’s the flag of our country,” Tarquinio said.
A few months ago, a local Rhode Island fire official reportedly told firefighters there that flying the flag from trucks was unnecessary and likened it to ISIS.