In Case You're Curious About Those Fire-Engine Flags …

In this undated photo, the American flag adorning this Long Beach Fire Department ladder truck waves in the coastal breeze as two firefighters chat with an unidentified man in downtown Long Beach.

5:04pm | There's an argument to be made that placing a big American flag on every fire engine in Long Beach — a tradition that became formalized in 2005 — is superfluous spectacle.

But you don't have to care about that to wonder why they're there — or if you're footing the bill for them.

As you might have presumed, the flags are a post-9/11 addition. Firefighters independently began to adorn their engines with the flags as a tribute to their New York brethren who lost their lives while responding to the attack at the World Trade Center.

In 2005, then-Assistant Chief Tim Cady instituted guidelines to make all the flags on the engines uniform — size, how and where they're mounted, etc. — guidelines that were further codified last year.

Important to note is that the fire-engine red, white, and blue does not come at taxpayer expense. LBFD Capt. Rich Brandt says the initial purchases were made by the Long Beach Firefighters Association, with all subsequent replacements paid for by the individual fire stations themselves.

"Our brothers and sisters are at battle every day to protect people. They're patriots," says Brandt. "It's not just 9/11, and it's not just firefighters, but also police and the military. They fight for that flag every day. [The flags] are our way to show our respect."

Call it firefighter flair. And if that makes those men and women feel better about running into burning buildings, long may they wave.

An American flag hangs from Long Beach FIre Department's Engine No. 3.

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