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Thin Red Line Flag

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  • Showcase your support for your fire department with this well-made flag
  • Polyester material used for a long-lasting red line American flag life
  • Thin Red Line Flag can be purchased with one of our 4 flagpoles
  • Mounted with the grommets and header tape on the side
  • Our thin red line American flags are made in the USA
  • Looking for Thin Blue Line Flag?
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Thin Red Line Flag Details

Display your support for your local fire department with this thin red line flag. Setup this black and white American flag with red stripe in front of a fire station or your home for all passersby to see. This black and red American flag will be able to handle the outdoor weather because of its tear-resistant, outdoor-tested polyester material. We also use a dye-sublimation printing method that creates striking colors that will not scratch or peel off like cheaper alternatives. If it’s windy, snowy, hot, or rainy, the fabric and print will not get ruined or rip. Assemble this thin red line American flag in a variety of locations by adding hardware to your order. Place the thin red flag on a handheld pole for parades, a wall-mounted pole for flat surfaces, a pole-mounted flagpole for street poles and lampposts, or a large in-ground mounted flagpole for the front of buildings and homes. The red line flag is finished with grommets on the side for simple setup. Let everyone who walks by your home or business know that you respect your local firefighters with this well-made American flag with one red stripe.

What does an American flag with a red stripe mean? Read below to learn about the thin red line flag's history and meaning.

Parts List:

  • Pre-printed American flag with red stripe
  • Optional flagpole of your choice


  • Outdoor Flag Polyester: Tear-resistant lightweight knitted fabric with excellent thru-print (3.25oz/yd²)

Thin Red Line Flag Specifications

Model Part Number Size Weight Includes
Flag Only DI8102 5ft x 3ft 0.4lbs Pre-printed flag
Flag & Hand-Held Flagpole DI0650 6ft 2.1lbs Pre-printed flag
Tangle-free aluminum flagpole
Removable black handle
Flag & Wall-Mounted Flagpole DI0653 6ft 2.9lbs Pre-printed flag
Tangle-free aluminum flagpole
Removable black handle
180° adjustable wall mount

The History of the Thin Red Line Flag

The first use of the term “Thin Red Line” dates all the way back to the 19th century.

In 1854, the forces of the British Empire -- specifically a 200-strong portion of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders -- found themselves acting as the second and last line of defense during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War.

When the defenses ahead of them fell to enemy cavalry, the men of the 93rd found the enemy bearing down on them. Organizing themselves into a two-deep firing line, the men of the 93rd fired three volleys at 600, 350 and 150 yards. They planned to fire another volley at point-blank range, but the enemy had turned and run away by that point.

A reporter for Britain’s “The Times” newspaper, William H. Russell, wrote later that the British firing line was the only thing between the enemy and the British camp, calling them a thin red streak tipped with steel. The phrase was repeated over and over again until it became condensed into “the Thin Red Line.”

Over time, the phrase slowly shifted from a description of that specific situation to a figure of speech. Now, when people referred to a “thin red line,” they were simply talking about a thinly spread military unit defending against an attack.

So how did we get from “the thin red line” meaning members of the military to the red line American flags being an emblem used by fire departments?

Here’s the bottom line: the thin red line American flag that you often see hanging from fire engines and EMT vehicles came about as an offshoot of the thin blue line flag used by police officers and law enforcement officials. The thin blue line represents the way the police act as protectors of their community.

So what does the thin red line flag represent?

Thin Red Line Meaning

So, what does the red stripe on the American flag mean? Having come from the same place as the thin blue line flag, the meaning of the firefighter's thin red line flag, or red lives matter flag, is roughly the same. The flag with red stripe is used today by civilians and fellow firefighters alike as a symbol of respect for those firefighters injured or killed in the line of duty.

The design of the firefighter thin red line flag is much the same as it is for the police thin blue line flag. Instead of a blue stripe down the center of the black-and-white American flag, firefighter red line flags have a single red stripe down the center.

The idea for using a red line for these firefighter red line flags is actually borrowed from another, similar design. This design is “The Red Line of Courage,” a thin red line on an all-black background. The firefighter American flag was developed in 1999 by the Apex Volunteer Fire Department of Apex, North Carolina.

Here at Vispronet, we’re proud to bring our version of the thin red line flag -- as close to the original version as we can get it. Features of our red line American flags include:

  • High quality, durable polyester construction thanks to our Polyflag material.
  • Metal grommets for hanging.
  • Four different flagpole options.

Thin Red Line Flag - Frequently Asked Questions

What does the American flag with a red stripe mean?

The thin red stripe on the black and white American flag stands for the fire department. The American flag with one red stripe has recently also been associated with a "red lives matter" meaning. The red American flag is seen as support for the department but is also used to honor injured or fallen firefighters. Red is the color most associated with the fire department like how blue is related to the police department.

When was the first thin red line flag flown?

While the term “thin red line” relates all the way back to 1854 in the British Empire, the actual red stripe American flag for the fire department was created in 1999. The red line American flag was made in response to the thin blue line flag for the police department so that the fire department could have a fireman American flag with a similar purpose.

What does the thin red line mean? Why is the term "thin red line" also associated with the military?

The term “thin red line” began in the military when it was used in 1854 at the Battle of Balaclava. The “thin red line” term became common to describe military actions when a small, thinly spread group of soldiers held their own in battle as was used as the name for a military painting and a famous novel. The thin red line meaning, however, was also used in a metaphorical sense to mean other forms of defense, such as when the fire department uses it.

Where do you usually see the thin red line American flag?

While you will find the thin red line flag installed inside or outside a fire department, it is also common to see the flag displayed in front of the homes of firefighters and their families. Sometimes, however, the American flag with black and red stripes is not allowed to be setup in front of city fire departments. It can be because alterations of the American flag are not permitted.

Do non-firefighters display the black and white US flag with red stripe?

Yes, people who support their local firefighters and those who are friends of or related to firemen and women also showcase the firefighter red line flag inside and outside their homes.

Why do firefighters setup the red American flag?

Most fire departments that use the thin red line flag have stated that its main purpose is to honor firefighters who were injured or died stopping fires and to show support for their profession.

What does the other color striped flags mean besides the black and white flag with red stripe?

While the most common thin line flags are blue for the police and red for the firefighters, there are other line flag colors associated with public safety departments. A thin white line flag is for the EMS, which stands for Emergency Medical Services. The thin yellow stripe relates to dispatchers and communicators. Finally, the thin gray line is for corrections officers.

What is the black flag with red line? What does it mean?

Sometimes, instead of seeing the classic American flag with a red stripe design, a black flag with a red stripe is used instead. This is an alternate design of the thin red line flag. The red line spans across the flag like the more popular design, but the entire background is black instead of black and white. The meaning is the same for both red line firefighter flags.

Is the thin red line flag disrespectful? Does it mean red lives matter?

The meaning of the red line flag was certainly not meant to be disrespectful. It's purpose is to honor fallen firefighters and the department, but there has been some controversy. Because it's an altercation of the American flag, some people do not agree with it. The black and white American flag with one red stripe has also been connected with the thin blue line flag, which has become a symbol of the Blue Lives Matter group, a controversial response movement to Black Lives Matter. The thin red line flag's purpose, however, is to pay tribute to the fire department rather than make any disrespectful or red lives matter/firefighter lives matter political statements.


  1. The National Archives -- The Battle of Crimea
  2. The Red Line of Courage
  3. The Thin Red Line (Battle of Balaclava)

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Thin Red Line Flag Assembly Instructions

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