POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Amid national attention and local outrage over the decision by the Arlington Board of Fire Commissioners to order the Arlington Fire District to remove American flags affixed to their fire trucks, the two groups met Thursday and came to an agreement that allows for one flag on one truck.
Following Tuesday's decision by the commission to remove the flags, Fire Chief Tory Gallante was inundated with support from across the country and from numerous local and national news outlets, according to Fox News.
The flags were added to the trucks after the department received a request from the local union. Jim Beretta, the chairman of the Arlington Fire District board voted in favor of removing the flags citing liability issues. But following the furor that erupted, Beretta said he was ready to sit down and talk with Gallante to discuss the matter.
On Thursday, Gallante, members of the firefighters union, Beretta and another board member met for more than two hours, coming up with the compromise to fly one flag until they could meet again to discuss the matter further, the group announced in a statement on Facebook.
"Representatives from the Arlington Fire District and Arlington Professional Fire Fighters Local 2393 met today to discuss the placement of the American Flag on our apparatus. We have agreed to install a flag on an engine and continue to work together to develop a standard and protocol. The Arlington Fire District recognizes and values the importance and symbolism of the American flag," the statement said.
In a joint statement, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Dutchess County Sherif Adrian “Butch” Anderson, Town of Poughkeepsie Supervisor Jay Baisley and Town of Poughkeepsie Police Chief Ron Spero offered their approval of the agreement:
“Firefighters displaying the American flag is tradition and it's appropriate. We are heartened the Arlington Fire District Fire Chief and District Board Chairman were able to sit down and resolve this issue.
We know the Fire Chief and Chairman of the Board both to be active, concerned and dedicated members of our community with a deep commitment to keeping our families safe. Today’s decision enables the men and women of the department to be able to demonstrate their commitment to the ideals embodied within the American Flag and pride for one of the country's great tradition of fire service.
We should always encourage a spirit of community and pride in our communities, nation and shared values. The larger Dutchess County community, joined by voices from throughout the nation, have expressed overwhelming support for the display of the American flags and we are pleased the American flag will be again proudly waving in the Arlington Fire District.”
The group also pointed out that they had no jurisdiction over the board's decision and no input into its decision.
U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D, Dutchess) expressed his support of the agreement.
“I was surprised and disappointed by the Arlington Fire District Board of Commissioner’s decision to remove the American flag from our community’s fire trucks," Maloney said. "The Hudson Valley’s bravest protect our families and communities and should be commended for their patriotism – not chastised for it.
“I understand the Board’s safety concerns, but fire departments throughout the Hudson Valley – and across the country – display our flag with pride on their fire trucks, and the Arlington Fire District should be no exception. I’m glad that today the firefighters and commissioners were able to come to an agreement that allows our flag to proudly fly once again."
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