Firefighter Suspended Over American Flag Sticker
The firefighter is trying to go back to work Friday night after being suspended without pay Thursday for refusing to take the flag sticker off his locker, Fox 29’s Sharon Crowley reported.
James Krapf took a photo of his locker with the sticker on it at the Chester Fire Dept.’s station, and he said he doesn’t understand why his supervisor wants him to take it off.
Krapf said he’s patriotic and many American flags hang around the firehouse.
He said he was told displaying the sticker on the outside of the locker is a violation of department policy. Personal items can be posted inside the lockers.
The firefighters’ union said 11 other firefighters were warned they should remove personal items from the outside of lockers or face similar suspensions, all without pay.
The order came after an incident over the summer, when some firefighters complained about a cartoon posted at the firehouse. They found it racially-offensive.
“Our guys took it hard on 9/11 because that could be anyone of us on any given day, and they take that seriously” said union leader Stacy Landrum.
Krapf was suspended Thursday, and so far he’s the only one who has been suspended.
“I shouldn’t have to remove the flag of the country I believe in. I love my country,” Krapf said. “I love my job. I love helping people. I’ve been doing this 11 years in the City of Chester, so this is something I love to do.”
Fox 29 News tried to get answers directly from the fire commissioner Friday. He told a local newspaper banning all materials from locker doors was the simplest way to avoid bickering among the staff.
When Crowley asked to talk with him, she got the run around, being repeatedly told he would be out to talk with her. Then, she was told he changed his mind and had no comment.
“Commissioner, hi. Can you tell us why you won’t talk to us because we’ve been out here all day?” Crowley asked.
“Yes, m’am, and I appreciate that,” the commissioner said, as he rose from his desk during a cell phone call. “Thank you very much. We have no comment, and I think it’s very rude that you barge into my office in the middle of a conversation.”
Krapf said he hoped to meet with the fire commissioner and the mayor to resolve the issue, though he still wants to be able to display an American flag.