A group of Upstate New York fire officials on Monday ordered a department to stop flying American flags from its trucks, calling the patriotic display a “liability” and a possible “distraction.”

Firefighters from the Arlington Fire District in the town of Poughkeepsie removed the flags from three trucks during a ceremony Tuesday, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported.

“If we had to take them down, they had to be taken down the right way,” Union President Joseph Tarquinio told The Journal. “At the time when the country needs unity, to do something like this … it’s next to flag-burning in my mind.”

The flags were a request of the union, and Fire Chief Tory Gallante initially gave the nod for their installation, provided the flags were maintained properly, were safely mounted and the union paid for them. Gallante said a mechanic checked the flags to make sure they were put in correctly.

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