After Flying Half-Staff for 381 Days, Flags Retired At West EMS

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WEST (May 4, 2014) Since the night of the West explosion, a U.S. and Texas flag, both tattered and torn from the blast, have flown at half-staff over the West EMS building.

Courtesy: Ron Jenkins

On Saturday, those weathered flags were finally retired and now new ones are flying high in their place.

West EMS board president Kevin Walters says the flags have remained a symbol of hope during West’s rebirth.

“The flags had holes in them and were ripped a little bit, but overall the main structure was there. We think that symbolized the City of West and our department really well,” Walters said.

“While our ends were torn, while we were grieving what we’d lost, our structure was still together.”

West just recently marked its one year anniversary of the of the fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 including 12 first responders, injured hundreds of others, and forever changed the landscape of the town.

The town’s EMS building was mangled by the blast. Walters says their flags were lowered the night of the explosion, and that the contractor hired to put up their new building asked they stay that way until he could finish the project.

“He and all of us here agreed to keep them that way, just to symbolize what was going on around the town. Everybody was rebuilding, everyone was tearing down, and we wanted people to remember what happened.”

West EMS have since moved into their new building, and during an open house over the weekend, they retired the flags. They had been flying at half-staff for 381 days.

They’ve been replaced, but weren’t thrown out. They now sit inside West EMS and serve as a constant reminder of all that was lost the night of April 17, and how far the people of West have come since then.

"Every time you walk by and see them we know that we got through the tough times and will keep moving forward," Walters said.