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Questions over Biblical image on fire truck

Updated: Thursday, March 13 2014, 04:57 AM CDT
(KGAN) -- CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)-- One Cedar Rapids fire truck is at the center of a discussion between city leaders.

That's because the city's civil rights commission received a complaint about an image painted on the department's 100-foot ladder truck.

Folks at the fire department say this is the first time they've ever received a complaint about the image on the fire truck, which has been part of the department for close to 17 years.

They say they are willing to make any necessary changes.

The image is on the bucket of the truck's aerial ladder.

First you see a firefighter, and behind him is what looks like the shadow of Christ holding a staff.

On the bottom of the picture are the words "The Lord is my Shepard."

"We have an image that may be considered Christian...and they were wondering if any government dollars had been used to put it on there,” said Executive Director of the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission.

John-Paul Chaisson Cardenas says he received "a friendly complaint" about the image a week and a half ago. That's when he contacted the fire chief.

"That image was on the truck when we bought it. We did not ask for that. We did not pay any money for it,” said Fire Chief Mark English.

He says none of his firefighters ever complained about it.

"A lot of them take personal solace in it and faith in it. They like it. They want to see it stay,” Chief English said.

However, Chief English says he willing to change the image.

He's now working with the civil rights commission and the ecumenical council to find an inclusive solution.

"I think it shows that at least the fire department and the whole city of Cedar Rapids is open to all faiths. We don't want to exclude anyone,” said English.

"We have two opportunities on this one. One is to, you know, we could erase it...however we have a wonderful opportunity to include other people in our community,” said Chaisson-Cardenas.

The fire department does have a new truck coming in, something they've been planning for several years.

That means the truck with the image will no longer be used as a first response vehicle.

Still, the fire department plans to make some changes to the picture.
Questions over Biblical image on fire truck

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