Thin Blue Line Flag

Mashpee fire engine 351 pulls out of the main fire station on Frank E. Hicks Drive. An American flag hangs adjacent to a thin blue line American flag on the back of the engine.

A gentle breeze catches the thin blue line flag assembled on the back right side of Mashpee fire engine 351 at the main fire station on Frank E. Hicks Drive on Wednesday, August 12.

The original American flag is displayed on the left side of the engine.

Mashpee Fire Chief Thomas C. Rullo said the thin blue line flag flying on the both engines 351 and 352 was at the request of the Mashpee Permanent Firefighters Local 2519 union.

He referred to the request as reasonable but wasn’t permitted to say anything else about the display of the flag.

James Hall, the president of Mashpee Local 2519 union, said the union received the support of the fire department administrators and the town manager to fly the thin blue line flags.

“For us, it’s a sign of professional pride and solidarity to support the officers we work with on a daily basis, sometimes on really difficult calls,” Mr. Hall said. “It’s a sign of support for local officers who’ve fallen in the line of duty and their families. As firefighters we also lose a lot of people nationally in the line of duty, so it touches a lot of us in that way.”

Years ago Mashpee fire department used to fly American flags on the back of trucks, but Mr. Hall isn’t sure why they stopped as it was before his time with the department.

“We requested it now to honor Sergeant Chesna from Weymouth police,” Mr. Hall said.

Sgt. Michael Chesna was on duty in Weymouth when he was shot and killed with his own gun in 2018.

The Hingham Fire Fighters Local 2398 displayed a thin blue line flag in honor of Sgt. Chesna. Controversy arose when fire department administration and the town of Hingham asked them to take the flag down, citing that it was offensive and had taken on a new political meaning.

The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts felt differently about the flag and decided to make it known around the commonwealth.

“The thin blue line flag originally hung by Hingham Firefighters in honor of Sgt. Chesna will be making a tour around Massachusetts to be flown from fire trucks in communities that support public safety,” Rich MacKinnon Jr., the president of the PFFM, said in a letter addressed to all members.

Mr. Hall has been organizing with the PFFM District 1 vice president James Brown to schedule the Sgt. Chesna thin blue line flag to be hung on a Mashpee truck. He’s currently unsure when the flag will arrive in Mashpee or for how long it will hang.

In the meantime, the Local 2519 union is displaying their own thin blue line flags on the Mashpee engines.

“I’ve personally had a blue line sticker on my vehicle for over 10, probably 15 years, just to support the police because I’ve worked in various communities and I work with them on a daily basis,” Mr. Hall said.

This particular act of solidarity isn’t the only matter the union is outspoken about.

“We also as a group support many other things throughout the year,” Mr. Hall said. “In October we wear breast cancer awareness shirts. Every Friday we wear red shirts to support the military and such. And this is just another example of this.”

After the tour of the flag from Hingham concludes, the flag will be presented to the Chesna family.

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