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NYC Fire Department, New York (U.S.)

Last modified: 2006-07-22 by rick wyatt
Keywords: fire department | new york |
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[NYC Fire Department flag] image by Blas Delgado Ortiz, 23 June 2001

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In the space of two days, I have seen two different New York City Fire Department flags, and I am convinced they serve two separate purposes.

First, there is the version used on coffins, sadly seen so often lately. This has five (for the boroughs, I suppose) stripes, three red (traditional fire department color, probably for fire and/or their trucks [if painted for visibility]) and two white. In the center, overlapping into three stripes, is a red square with the Fire Department's "Maltese" Cross in white, with red and (thin) white edging. The seal of the city appears in blue in the center circle of the cross, with other devices in gold on the arms- "FD" on top, "NY" on the bottom, a fire pump on the right and a hook and ladder on the left (*not* the simpler version once posted here, with one of the four letters of FDNY on each arm and "FD" entwined in each other in the center).

Clinching the idea that this is a coffin flag only is the fact that the cross is oriented to the *side* of the flag- that is, if the flag were actually flying, the cross would seem to be lying on its side, with all lettering and the like pointing that way, unless hung vertically. When placed on a coffin, however, the details are facing forward, that is, to the narrow end of the coffin, which, when carried, faces that way. (I may have once seen this flag with the cross facing the "right" way, but I'm beginning to doubt it.) In fact, this may never actually be manufactured as a flag, but only as a coffin cover, with folded edges and the like.

The other flag is similar, but places the red square in the canton, so it resembles the NYPD (City Police Department) and U.S. flags (the former is based on the latter, with five green and white stripes). This must be the version for hanging and parades. I just saw this FDNY flag hanging, along with the NYPD flag, alongside the Financial District Christmas tree. Above were the U.S. flag and what appeared to be the Canadian flag (wasn't waving, so not sure). I have no idea why the latter was there.

Nathan G. Lamm, 26 December 2001