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Published: Wednesday, 10/10/2001

Fire crews in Toledo to finish mourning, raise flag


Toledo firefighters will end a month of mourning tomorrow.

They have been flying the American flag at half staff and wearing black shrouds across their badges in memory of the more than 300 firefighters who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

About 7 a.m., a moment of silence will be observed, the U.S. flag will be raised to full staff, and a black-and-purple firefighter's funeral flag will be removed from flagpoles at fire stations across the city.

“It is never, ever easy to lose a fellow firefighter in the act of doing their duty. Because of the largeness of this particular issue, it is a sad issue for the fire service. We thought it was appropriate to remain respectful by lowering the flag for these individuals,” fire Chief Mike Bell said.

The same day flags will be flown at full staff at the Toledo fire stations, one at the Firefighters Memorial in front of the Old Town Hall on Main Street in Genoa will be raised to full staff.

The ceremony will occur during an 8 p.m. candlelight vigil to honor those who died in the attacks. The vigil is organized by the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District and Genoa and Clay Township police departments.

President Bush returned U.S. flags to full staff Sept. 23, nearly two weeks after the attacks in New York City and Washington.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs asked permission from the White House to fly fire station flags at half staff until tomorrow. The White House Office of Political Affairs gave the organization permission Sept. 27.

“[Fire departments] are not violating any kind of protocol regardless of what people think,” said Gail Walters, the international association's director of communications.

She said the White House relayed that Mr. Bush only controls federal buildings and facilites. Fire stations fall under state, county, or local jurisdictions. The association suggested that fire departments still concerned about the flag issue might want to talk to their local government representatives.

Ms. Walters said about 60 percent to 70 percent of fire departments have chosen to leave their flags at half staff and some have received complaints from citizens because of their decision.

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