COVENTRY, R.I. (WJAR) -- An American flag on the back of a fire truck and decals on the truck windows is leading to a new dispute at the Central Coventry Fire District.
The firefighters union said they're being asked to take them off.
"The members are very upset," Firefighters Union President David Gorman told NBC 10 News. "I have a couple members, armed service retired, retired from the guard."
Firefighters and their supporters said it started last year when Fire District Chairman Fred Gralinski likened the flags on the trucks to what you see from terrorists.
"They look like a bunch of yahoos," Gralinski said at a board meeting. "Like in the paper, like ISIS is Syria going to take over a city. I don't think they need that big flag on the back of the truck. That's not America to me. Those are a bunch of terrorists. So, I'm going to ask you to take the flag off the truck."
Gralinski now said through a district spokesman he used a poor choice of words and apologizes for an perceived disrespect of the flag.
But he also said they're not telling firefighters to take the flags or decals off the trucks.
There is, though, a new policy.
"All that has to happen is for someone that wants to put a sticker or decal on the first truck to go to the board and ask for permission," Gregg Perry, who is the spokesman for the fire district, said.
Perry also said they want to check with the military on flag display protocol.
But the union president maintains he's being asked in private to remove the items. He said something else is happening behind the scenes.
"That basically sums it up," Gorman told NBC 10.