Firefighter James Krapf has been reinstated after his two-day suspension for refusing to follow orders to remove all decorations from the outside of his locker, including an American Flag sticker. It was the flag sticker that brought the confrontation between Krapf and his boss, Chester City Fire Commissioner James Johnson.
Firefighter James Krapf, 31, met with union officials and Fire Commissioner James Johnson as a group of 40 people – holding signs and waving flags – rallied in support of the firefighter outside Chester Fire Station No. 2.
It was unclear this morning if Krapf would receive backpay for the two days he was suspended. The 11-year veteran will return to work on Thursday.
After the meeting, Krapf said he was thankful for all the support he had received. Since Thursday, he said he had received calls and e-mails of support from across the country.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Krapf said.
Krapf was asked if there was any lesson to be learned from the incident.
“Guys are dying for what this flag represents,” Krapf said. “Say a prayer for the troops.”
The clash over the flag started as an attempt to quash arguments in the firehouse. Commissioner Johnson directed all 61 firefighters over the summer to clear the outside of their lockers after a black firefighter posted a cartoon that some found offensive.
One of those rallying outside the station said she felt compelled to drive six hours from Western Pennsylvania after she saw a story about the controversy on the Internet.
“It was absolutely ridiculous that anyone would find the flag offensive,” said Angela Lash, of West Finley. “A firefighter puts his life on the line to save other people and this is the thanks he gets.”
About 15 minutes after the meeting began, police cruisers and an ambulance were called to the station. No one would answer questions about their arrival as they left the session. An official said there would be a police report filed on the incident but offered no further information.