Firefighter Suspended For Wearing Red Shirt In Support Of Veterans

By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV

MEDFORD (CBS) – He didn’t get a pink slip, but a Medford firefighter was suspended for three days over a red t-shirt. It’s an issue that would not seem to generate controversy, but the fire chief says he directly disobeyed an order.

It started three years ago when the firefighters wanted to join a national campaign called Red Shirt Fridays, to show support for U.S. troops serving overseas. When they started wearing the t-shirts on Fridays, fire chief Frank Giliberti objected to the style saying it wasn’t a proper uniform.

He proposed red polo shirts, much like the blue shirts the firefighters wear as part of their uniform each day.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports

The issue simmered with little progress until July when a firefighter, an Iraqi war veteran, apparently took a stand and wore the forbidden t-shirt facing suspension for three days.

“I think he knew by making a stand and standing his ground, this would open up people’s eyes,” said Medford firefighter Paul Doyon. Medford mayor Michael McGlynn, who spoke to the firefighter, said “he knows it’s wrong to disobey the order.At the same time he knows how strongly he feels about it. He was there fighting,” he said.

The fire chief says he has the red polo shirts, but they need the department logos, and will be ready in a month or so. He says the issue is more than just about a t-shirt, but about a code of conduct. Still, the suspension had many in the department seeing red, and firefighters are now anxious to get on with the campaign.

“If we can do that, wearing a red shirt on Fridays, it would be a plus for the department,” said firefighter Stephen Pinette. The firefighter, who was unavailable for comment, is now back on the job.

More from Beth Germano
  • trose

    I’m a Paramedic and work for the town of Oak Bluffs and we wear red T -shirts on Fridays to show our support to the troops we have several soldiers that sever and I’m proud that we can show are support by wearing the Red t-shirts it’s the least we can do they are fighting for our freedom leaving loved ones behind my hopes of wearing the red t shirts on Fridays will get the other fire departments on the island to wear them as well. I support you Paul Doyon Thank You!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • ByeByes

      Guess who is going to get the pink slip when there’s a need to reduce the force. Surely not the chief!

  • Italo

    Thumbs down to Medford. Now if, God forbid (oh, am I allowed to say that nowadays?), if there were a fire incident such that this one good-intentioned firefighter’s manpower absence made a difference in having enough firefighters on hand to control the incident, what would the Chief think then? Especially where they said the shirts with logos will be ready in a month–give me a break, he shouldn’t have been suspended.

    • Colin

      And if the chief gave a direct order that this firefighter felt strongly enough about to disobey? What then? Message is good, doing it in an approved way is better. He’s paid for his time, and it belongs to the firedepartment when he’s on duty.

    • Brad USNR

      I thiink you are missing the point. It was not that the town/mayor/Chief does not support our troops. It is that the firefighter disobayed a direct order. Disipline is required. While I support the red shirt idea, the firefighter needs ot obey his chain of comand. Wait for the month then wear the red in compliance with protocol.

      • henry

        Brad, they’ve been waiting 3 years.

  • bb125895

    It is a shame the Fire Chief has to be like this….his men, who he should know better than anyone else, will not perform their job any differently if they wear a t-shirt on Fridays supporting our troops. When I hear of situations where rules prevent people from showing their support, I often think that the people that made these rules should be sent to fight on the front lines to witness first hand what our troops face day in and day out. I am sure they would experience a change in attitude real quick. God bless our firemen and troops.

    • SDD

      On the flip side: One of his men, who should know his boss better then anyone else, disobeyed a direct order because he disagreed with it. That’s insubordination and a discipline problem. Just because it’s wrapped in the cloak of “support our troops!” doesn’t make it any less of an issue.

      • Redsoxchick67

        Its a tee shirt vs a polo shirt plain and simple! They ordered the shirts three years ago…obviously it’s not important to some people but it was to this firefighter. Good for him! I think he knows what’s insubordination, etc. having served in a war!

      • Barbara Hart

        i agree with you…i am a grandma of many and i encourage “question authority” not break the rules to do so…it doesnt make you a weinie to work with the system…i appreciate your service, fireman/soldier…god bless you…

  • donny

    Good for this firefighter/soldier. He did what he wanted – which was against the clearly stated rules and now he takes his punishment.

    Aa a soldier. I wonder…if he sees any harm in his well-inteded actions?… Would he disobey/disrespect/embarrass/challenge his commander in the field like this?…

  • truth

    Chief Giliberti has a long standing and well recorded dislike of the military and our veterans. A record almost as long as his record for poor leadership and bold faced lying. He hates hiring veterans, fought at the civil service commission to try and take veterans benefits away from them, and skips over 30+ veterans during time of 2 wars to higher his kid (a non-vet). Often disqualifing men for ridiculous reasons just to reach down the list to get daddys little boy. He never had the honor or courage in his bloodline that it takes to serve in this nations armed forces. Giliberti and his decisions and the men he burned along the way, the lies and underhanded two face tactics and the departments hatred for him will be his legacy. And it will be his to live with, with noone to blame but himself.

    • donny

      Uh… you left out that the Chief was personally responsible for the Bubonic Plague, the National Debt and the heartbreak of psoriasis. No really.

  • Renee Rodkey


    • donny

      Renee, Are you talking about the Chief or the firefighter?…

      Seems like we’re witnessing two power trips. Pick a side, and then get ridiculously hyperbolic like ‘truth’ above. How long you been holding THAT in?…

  • Tee Kay

    Cities and towns should be thankful that there are individuals willing to do this dangerous job. No pay raises, layoffs, and those that remain are even at greater risk because of small shift staffing. Get over it, chief. Maybe someday firefighters will have just had enough and everyone resign. Then when there’s an emergency the dispatcher can say “sorry, call the national guard”.

    • donny

      Dangerous jobs like firefighting are made less dangerous when members function as a cohesive unit. Going freelance and doing whatever a member wants in the face of leadership breaks down that unity and will end up endangering the very people you appear to be arguing for. You can’t have it both ways.

      What happens when the next firefighter, passionate about a cause, decides to show his support and breaks the rules?… Every man/woman for themselves. Sorry, but this firefighter is ultimately thinking OF himself by breaking the rules.

      But keep dumping on the Chief because it looks good to pose as supporting the troops.

      Here’s a way to support the troops – DEMAND THEY BE BROUGHT BACK HOME! OSAMA’S DEAD!

      Oh, I forgot there are no jobs back home. Let’s all wear green shirts on Tuesday to support jobs!

  • VTRFF976

    Tee Kay,–Oh please these are the only people other than Astronauts who get paid to sleep on the job. The most excitment most fire houses get is painting fire hydrants and going out for your paid food shopping trip.Two days on with overtime and five days off to do side work as plumbers,electricians and capenters. All the while underbidding real tradesmen. Believe me there is no shortage of individuals willing to do this “dangerous” job. This guy needs to learn to follow orders period. Too much time on his hands. Make them all volunteer’s or make them work normal eight hour shifts each like police. None of this antiquated “48 hour shifts” with sleep pay.

    • donny

      Amen! Amen! AMEN!

      Another ‘victim’ dispelled of their delusion.

    • 4 the people

      VTRFF976 and donny, you would be the first to scream about not having personel to fight a fire or lend assistance in an emergency. Sure there are a lot of people who would love the job but very few who could do it. So flap your gums and wave your hands like you know what you are talking about while the rest of us thank God for all the Fire ,Police and Military that are doing their job for us, you two also!

  • 4 the people

    Give it a break donny some people care about things and should be allowed to express themselves without your pathetic replys. The chief made a stand and was not flexible, poor leadership for sure.

    • donny

      4 the people,

      Impressive name.

      Don’t quite know WHERE you got that I don’t want firefighters…? or that I don’t ‘care’ or that I wish to stifle people expressing themselves. Maybe you confuse what’s simply a different opinion.

      Then again, I don’t quite understand what you’re ‘trying’ to say other than the old I love the firefighters, police and military MORE than you b-s. Which, by the way, is an opinion you’re completely entitled to share. If you knew what I did for work you’d realize how foolish you sound.

      Look, we’re talking about ONE firefighter who chose to NOT follow the rules and was suspended as a result by the Chief. You can paint the Chief as the bad guy here, but that’s what leaders DO, they make rules and enforce them… not selectively – which seems to be what you’re arguing for….?

      And NO, this isn’t some epic, master conspiracy against firefighters, police, ,military, apple pie, librarians, freedom, safety, etc… it’s a rather small, dull, drama playing out in one firehouse. Jeez!

      Oh, and yes, God bless us all. Let’s try that on for once. GOD BLESS US ALL!

  • terry

    Donny must be friends with the chief. He’s been on this nonstop. Pathetic

  • themanthemyth

    I just have a strong belief that “donny” never fought for anything except for whatever pathetic cause he stands for here safe and STATESIDE. Medford fire currently shows their (authorized) support for our brave troops (unlike most departments nationwide) with a red tee-shirt worn UNDER the blue uniform shirt for NO ONE TO SEE!!! If “donny” had ever been to war, he would be like the rest of of who have and kept up with his local news, and feel good anytime he saw an organization showing that they support what he was doing. Don’t be mad at “donny”(and all his followers for that matter)… he’s just ignorant and doesn’t get it.

  • fireinthesky

    … And to quote the great Tommy Gavin (for those of you who think all we do is sleep on the job) “next time your house is on fire, or you or a family member is hurt, don’t call us call a (explitive) garbage truck…! ” For those of you behind us please disregard. Directed at “donny” and his followers.

  • othersideofdarkness

    If you actually paid attention to the story (“donny” and friends) you would have heard that the mayor said the Firefighter in question knew it was wrong. He stood up for a cause bigger than him, “donny”(and friends).. The mayor also sounded more in the favor of the Firefighter in questions than the man he personally appointed as chief of department.

  • donny

    You’re all right. I’m wrong. I see it now. Amazing how you all know me so well based on my comments here. I have to admit, you all nailed it. Got me to a ‘T’!

    The firefighter in question should be free to wear whatever he wants whenever he wants. After all he served our great country and shouldn’t be limited in his desire to express support. He’s a better man than I’ll ever be, and the time I spent fighting for my country, well, that never happened. You all know that better than I do.

    Truth is, I’ve never even traveled out of state.

    With no valid opinion to offer on this story, I only commented here because the Chief (whatever his name is) and I are pen pals.

    It’s quite clear you all support the troops way, way, way more than I or anyone else ever could. And if my house catches fire tonight I deserve no assistance and should die because my misguided belief that the Chief was simply following the established rules of the department. Actually, a death by fire would be too good for me.

    I know now that very point I made was simply ignorant. I ask for your forgiveness as I embark on a new life emulating all of you; the humble, salt-of-the-earth. You all work much harder than I or anyone else, and you sacrifice far more than my entire family ever could. You know me better than I know myself.

    Please, if I missed anything, I’m sure you’ll post it down below – with a compassionate sense of humor, of course.

    All kidding aside; I do genuinely wish you all the very best. This is after all a news comment thread. Don’t take yourselves too seriously. You don’t know me any more than I know you.


  • John H

    Donny, please get a life! There are other things to do besides sitting behind a computer, go outside and enjoy the summer, don’t worry no one will challenge you out in the scary real world, and if they do call 911 and someone will come and make it all better.

  • terry

    I think we hurt donnys feelings. Then again you should keep your pie hole shut when you dont know the whole history behind the story. To bad so sad.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Taz Show
Download Weather App

Listen Live