FDNY firefighters forced to remove ‘Thin Red Line’ flag after Dem's office called it a political symbol

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Top brass at the FDNY ordered an East Village ladder company to remove a “Thin Red Line” flag after receiving a complaint from a Democratic councilwoman’s office relaying concerns from a constituent that the flag was too “politically charged.” 

A staffer from Democratic Councilwoman Carlina Rivera emailed Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator Madison Hernandez March 19 relaying the concerns of a constituent who questioned whether Ladder Co. 11 was violating department rules by flying the flag. 

The constituent was told, according to Rivera’s staffer, that the flag was flown to “honor deceased firefighters,” according to an email of the exchange obtained by The New York Post. “[H]owever he brought up that they could’ve used an FDNY flag rather than a politically charged symbol.” 

NYC Councilwoman Carlina Rivera and Ladder Company 11 displaying the thin red line flag.  (council.nyc.gov; X./@DC_Draino)

“It is to both his and our understandings that private political symbols aren’t permitted to be displayed on public vehicles,” the staffer, Lisander Rosario, said. “Can you confirm if there are any violating flags/symbols on Ladder 11?” 

The “thin red line” flag is intended to convey solidarity with firefighters. It is a variation on the original “thin blue line” flag that shows support for police officers. The thin blue line flag became most visible in 2020 as a reaction to defund the police movements that swept the country in the wake of the police custody death of George Floyd. 

That same year, then-Commissioner Daniel Nigro implemented a rule that trucks may not fly thin red line flags because it violated department rules on “altered” versions of U.S. flags. 


After the interaction with the constituent, FDNY Deputy Chief Joseph Schiralli told the firefighters at the East 2nd Street firehouse that the thin red line flag must come off, per reporting from The Post. He is said to have told the firefighters he agreed it was “ridiculous” to remove the flags. 

That move stoked an uproar on social media. Conservative activist Rogan O’Handley, who goes by @DC_Draino on X, tweeted a photo of the flag displayed, noting that FDNY Firefighters were “forced to remove ‘red line’ flag from fire truck hung to memorialize their fallen brothers in 9/11.” 

An FDNY ambulance

An FDNY ambulance  seen in New York, United States, on October 26, 2022. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Rivera, who voted to defund the NYPD of $1 billion, said her officer never contacted Ladder Co. 11 about the issue. She said the complaint originated from a constituent and not one of her staff members. 

A spokesman for FDNY told Fox News Digital it received a complaint from a local elected official’s office that expressed “concerns about a flag on the fire truck deemed inappropriate.” 

“When the complaint reached the top leadership of the Department, the Chief Department and Fire Commissioner approved the flag to be flown from the apparatus,” he said.


Rivera’s office did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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