On Monday, some Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department firefighters were given an order to remove from their fire engine a “thin blue line” flag honoring fallen police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. The black and white flag with it’s blue stripe was on the rear of a rig at Sunnymead Ranch Station 48. In addition, a decal was also ordered removed as well as pictures of the flag from social media.
Fire Chief John Hawkins told reporter Ali Tadayon of the The Press Enterprise that he issued the order because the flag did not meet department standards. Chief Hawkins wrote, “If no standard exists, then any size, shape or content flag could be flown.”
The chief’s said his biggest concern was safety and was worried it would make the rig and firefighter targets for extremists. He also said the flag might block other drivers from seeing warning lights.
The chief strongly strongly denied claims on social media that he does not support law enforcement.
Tadayon quotes Firefighter Eric Hille’s post on Facebook (above) about the controversy. Hille has refused, so far, to comply with the social media request.
“I find it heartbreaking that we are not allowed to show our support for our brothers and sisters in blue,” Hille wrote.
Hille also criticized upper management for being fast to order the flag be taken down but slow to respond to him after he was struck by a car while on duty.
“I wish you were this fast to respond when I needed my (Economic Injury Disaster Loans)/Injury benefits approved by the department which are still denied,” Hille wrote. “I wish you had taken the initiative to visit me in the hospital or at home during the 6.5 months I was off recovering to see how me and my family were doing.”
Below are some of the previous Facebook posts by Firefighter Hille: