BANGOR – There was controversy at the Bangor Fire Department Friday over shirts meant to support the troops.
According to the Jared Willey, the president of the Bangor Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 772, the firefighters had an agreement with the chief and deputy chief to be able to wear R.E.D. T-shirts to support troops who are deployed every Friday.
R.E.D. stands for “Remember Everyone Deployed.”
Bangor Fire Chief Tom Higgins said the agreement was signed in April of this year and was in effect during the summer months, when firefighters could wear shorts and the shirts together.
However, with the weather getting cooler, the chief and deputy chief decided not to renegotiate, due to the fact that the firefighters are more recognizable in their standard uniforms.
Firefighters say they’re discouraged and disappointed.
“Just before it expired, we went to negotiate and we were just met with a ‘no,'” said Willey, the union president. “There was no want to negotiate, no want to push this forward or want to implement this into our dress code.”
Chief Higgins, who served in the military, said “first and foremost, the Bangor Fire Department fully supports our nation’s military and the rights they afford us by serving each and every day.”
The chief told us that the wearing of the shirts was a short-term deal that was agreed upon by both sides.
Higgins also said that his decision not to extend the agreement has the full support of Bangor’s City Council Chair Clare Davitt.
Willey told us that the firefighters are prepared to continue wearing the shirts, even though Chief Higgins says that would be in violation of their collective bargaining agreement.
An update was made on the Bangor Professional Firefighters Facebook page Saturday saying the R.E.D. shirt tradition has been reinstated.
The post said the city and fire chief made it clear they support military and members of the military in the department. It also said they are working on creating a platform to take orders for the shirts and proceeds will go to support our troops.