I am a veteran of the US Navy. I have two kids currently serving, with another enlisting soon. I am proud of my kids, my country and those who defend our freedoms.
Our flag, and all it represents is near and dear to my heart.
The issue:
Our fire department class A uniforms have the flag on the shoulder with the bars leading. Although not in violation of US Code (which does not SPECIFICALLY call out firefighters, police, etc) I cannot, in good concious, wear the flag in this fashion. On my uniform, the union leads (stars facing forward).
I have gotten grief from our township chief.
So, how does your department wear the flag (if it is part of your uniform)?
What are your thoughts on the subject?

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Have one on my turn out coat. On in the proper way blue forward.
Can you ask you chief to move back to france, or canada, or where ever the hell he came from? hey maybe he can even go over and be a live bodyguard for some terrorist......God Bless the American Flag and all her glory......in the correct direction by the way
Because of this issue in are area my dept.. regertably dosen't display the colors on are uniform we have a dept. patch on the left and a state emt-b or emt-p on the right
i am sorry but i feel the american flag should be displayed on all uniforms and i was always told a good rule of thumb is the stars should always be charging into battle not away from it.
I have had this same battle with my chief, and as the department currently has the union facing the rear I have made many attempts through various stages of my career (I am a captain currently)to make the change to our uniform. I take offense that many civilians don't care. I have never been in the military service, but take great pride in my flag, and my country for that matter. I think there is a lack of education for the general public in regards to the flag and many people including fire departments simply do not know better. I want to make a point; several years ago I, "the ignorant civilian", had the only uniform in the department with the proper flag placement and orientation, an ARMY vet came up to me and commeted that my flag "looked wrong" and that he was offended I would even wear a flag like that. So this impression is far reaching. This is an uphill battle you are fighting. One while seemilngly insignificant, is not easily corrected in a volunteer, or combination department. In a career department it is easily taken care of, so I will not even address that(It boils down to listen to your boss). When dealing with volunteers it is not always easy to take corrective action on an item like this,whether it be due to budgeting constraints, the logistics of it or just simple resistance to change. The chief is correct in saying he sets the uniform code for his department, that is his right as chief and it is clearly within his power to set as he pleases. Fire departments are governed by bylaws, SOP's and SOG's, uniform code is generally set under the latter two and those are both drafted or adopted by the chief. That means if he wants the uniform to be pink tutu's they will be, it would not be good for PR but he has that right. Fire departments are para-military organizations, not military, therefore military code does not apply, however many departments do use military guidelines to come up with their uniform code.

That being said I'd like to touch on one more subject: John Q. Public. Most of the pubilc is not familiar with uniform code, nor do they have a grasp of many of the respects the flag deserves and should be followed. They do however have a great impression on what "looks" right. As an officer in a fairly urban department I have learned to live by the phrase "perception is reality" especially when it comes to dealing with the public, if the public feels you are or are not doing enough in a situation you have been remanded to doing whichever they have chosen. If the public gets the impression the flag does not "look" right on your shoulder, it is not right, and therefore in their eyes it is simply wrong.

My advice would be to urge your VFW to run a "flag education" column in the local paper, and help them get the word out to local boy scouts, girl scouts, police departments, citizens and more importantly your department through presentations. Take an active role in educating the community around you and you may get the result you want. If you educate the public in right and wrong you may influce the chief or a future chief to make the correction on the uniform. I know when I make chief that is my plan. Maybe I could not solve this problem right now, but I laid the ground work for making the change in the future.

Last bit I promise: For those of you who refuse to change your patch despite the chiefs orders, I would strongly recommend against that, for past military men, you are chosing a patch on a uniform over following orders. Albeit the chief is wrong on the military standard, and the proper ettiqute for the flag orientation, he is the chief and as such his orders deserve respect, and to be followed. I would stongly urge you to request to wear your flag differently in writing, citing your reasons for wanting to doing so. I know that disobeying orders in my department will land you a suspension and insubordination (which has been interpreted as disobeying orders more than once on the same subject) will
sorry last bit got cut off:

land you an expulsion. I would hate to see that happen to any of you over a patch. I recognize that patch is a symbol of our great nation and deserves great respect as such, but it seems silly to me that you would choose winning the battle over winning the war, after all your goal is to get the patch propely placed and oriented on your uniform, but if you are no longer on the department what change can you effect? It sounds to me that you may have to suck it up for now, wear it the wrong way and do what you can to get it changed in your department, be patient and you will get the results you want in due time. Be willing to sacrifice this battle to win the war and get our colors to fly as they should. Stay safe brothers.
http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagetiq.html
This should be all you need to support your argument. Good luck.


To wear our country's flag properly, the field of stars is worn closest to your heart. Thus, if your patch is to be worn on your LEFT sleeve, use a left flag (normal). For patches worn on your RIGHT sleeve, use a "right" or "reversed field" flag. Since the law does not specifically address the positioning of the patch, a decision is left to the discretion of the organization prescribing the wear. Some elect to use the "left" flag on both sleeves. [Note: many states and cities have ordinances pertaining to the use of the flag; you may wish to contact the Attorney General of your state or the City Attorney's office regarding this matter.] If you are planning to wear only one patch, it is recommended that you wear a "left" flag on your left sleeve. Military guidelines specify that in support of joint or multi-national operations (as in Iraq), the "right" flag is worn on the right sleeve (see picture), 1/4" below the shoulder seam or 1/8" below any required unit patches. (Class A uniform excepted.)
Here's some more ammunition: I researched this not too long ago, when we were buying turnout coats and the members wished to have flags on the right arm.

It is called a "reverse side flag" or "right facing flag" and as someone pointed out before, the flag should always be displayed with the stars leading, as if the flag was streaming in the wind.

The US Flag code can be read here:
http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html#36

An excerpt:
Section 176 (j): No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

From the Army Regulation 670-1 "Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia":

(2) The full-color U.S. flag cloth replica is worn so that the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer’s right, and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward. The appropriate replica for the right shoulder sleeve is identified as the reverse side flag.
Thought I was always taught that nothing is displayed higher then the American flag. Not trying to pick a war with the Army, but why is the Airborne patch displayed above the colors?
It is a unit designation the flag is to be displayed 1eighth of an inch below
From all of the postes he has made the Chief is just a thick headed ass on a power trip
Maybe it is a power trip and it's misguided. I understand the frustration behind your complaint. Change is no easy thing in the fire service, but let me ask you this why go straight to the top? Why not start with your lieutenant or captain and get them on board... Chiefs tend to listen to their peers. Let your chain of command work for you... more voices saying the same thing, some of which come with brass can go a long way in swaying decisions. Then again I'm a Captain and I can't get the chief to change it. All in due time.... patience..change will happen.

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