What Are The Rules To Honor And Raise The First Responder Flag?

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Are you placing an order for a first responder flag? Well, it comes with a set of responsibilities that might or might not be mentioned in the online shopping cart or product manual. There are certain rules you need to honor and follow when raising first responder flags. Learn everything you need to know about it.

First Responder Flag

Let’s start with the First Responder Flag itself first. So what is a First Responder Flag? It’s basically a flag that stands for first responders at work. Throughout U.S. history and especially after the 9/11 incident, the importance of first respondents on American society was recognized. The first respondents include security personnel, armed forces, correctional officers, law enforcement personnel, dispatch personnel, fire department workers, and EMS workers.

The First Responder Flag represents all of the above workers. Each colour present on the flag represents one category of workers. Those are:

  • Blue – Police officers, Air force, Navy, FBI agents, Sheriffs, etc
  • Red – Firefighters, Lifeguards, Fire marshals, etc
  • Green – Medical workers, Military police, Environmental police, etc
  • White – Doctors, Nurses, Air marshals, etc

Please keep in mind that there are no “official” flags for first responders issued by the U.S. government. So you might find a variation to the description provided above. These are independently developed by communities and organizations that want to show their respect for the first responders. But they’re more or less the same. The flags often mimic the U.S. National flag, and the stripes that are multi-coloured represent the various worker categories.

Rules to Honor the First Responder Flag

When hosting a First Responder Flag at your property, there are certain measures you must undertake. Again, these are unofficial. You are not required to abide by it and are unlikely to face lawsuits. But it’s highly essential to undertake the measures. Show equal respect to the First Responder Flag as you’d show to the U.S. National flag.

You should refer to the 4 U.S. Code § 8. Respect for the flag for guidelines on how to host the flag on your premises. Here are some of the things you need to keep in mind:

You should under no circumstances show disrespect to any version of the First Responder Flag.

Do not dip the flag to any person or thing.

If present on the flag, you should never have the 50-star union displayed down. The exception to this is when you’re using it as a signal of distress when calling out for help.

  1. Do not have the First Responder Flag touch anything beneath it. This includes the floor, desks, benches, water, or any merchandise.
  2. Always host the flag aloft and free, not horizontally or flat.
  3. The flag should never be treated in a way where there’s a chase of it getting torn or damaged in any way.
  4. Never use the flag to cover the ceiling.
  5. Do not use the flag for any uniform or costume. You can affix a First Responder Flag patch on any uniform that’s part of the upper part of the body and not lower.
  6. Never use the flag for holding, carrying, delivering, or receiving anything.
  7. Never use the flag for any advertising purposes or write captions relating to the flag.
  8. If the flag is damaged in some way and is unfit for display, then you’re supposed to destroy it in a dignified way. Burning the flag is allowed and is a good example.

All of these rules are applicable to the U.S. National flag as per the U.S. Code § 8. Respect for the flag. So you should follow the same rules for hoisting and handling the First Responder Flag.

Flying the First Responder Flag at Mourning Sessions

There might be instances where you might choose to use the flag at mourning sessions. Probably you’re attending the death anniversary of a famous first responder worker in your area. Or there’s a tragic accident involving these brave workers, and you’re attending them with the First Responder Flag. For such cases, you also need to follow specific rules. Again, these are unofficial but should be followed out of respect.

You can fly the flag at half-staff. But the position of it should be such that it remains below the summit but above the ground. It shouldn’t be touching the ground or surface of anything.

You shouldn’t also be writing any messages or slogans directly on the flag. You can use flyers for that purpose.

By following the rules mentioned above, you can show your gratitude to the first responders who are risking their lives as part of their job to keep us safe.