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  • Long Hair For Religion

    How about some opinions about the fire fighters refusing to cut hair & beards because of religious reasons? (See article on firehouse.com home page).

    I'm a Religious Studies major at Sacred Heart University so I understand where these gentlemen are coming from and understand why they don't want to cut their hair and beards, but I also understand the reasons why they simply can't keep their hair long due to seals on their mask, etc.

    - Turk II

  • #2
    I think the religious aspect is being used as an excuse to circumvent the rules of the department and if allowed may very well open a huge can of worms. Putting aside the reason for the rule, (safety, appearance, whatever), if it is a policy of your department, it must be followed by all. If some are allowed to do their own thing then all should be allowed to do whatever they want.

    When off duty, do whatever you want(as long as it's legal and doesn't reflect negatively on your department), but when you're working everyone should be expected to comply.

    I know my opinion may be hard line old school but I honestly feel if you don't like working here...quit. No one can force you to stay. I'm sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of others waiting for your job who will comply.

    Comment


    • #3
      So what are these guys going to do when they get burned at a fire? Sue the city for not enforcing the beard/facial hair policy! How do you make exceptions for a persons safety? I understand a persons religious beliefs are a deep and dear matter, but what about when those beliefs could cause serious bodily injury to that person. Do we just let it happen? If we do we are all negligent. I feel that those persons who refuse to shave and protect themselves from the toxic fumes/gases/heat, that they should not be allowed in structures that would pose any type of threat to their health. Make them all drivers/pumpers/engineers. Make them in charge of rehab stations. Send them to do inspections, but do not allow them to enter into any type of hazardous situation. Lung cancer, toxic shock due to mass amounts of chemicals in the atmosphere, these are all horrible ways to die. When you can prevent death, why not?

      ------------------
      Stone35

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      • #4
        Only Ok for those deaf long-haired firemen.

        oops that's next door in PG county.

        Comment


        • #5
          I actually heard that SCOTT worked, or is/was working with a Jewish Community in upstate NY to design a mask for them so they can keep their beards. They bought their own engine to provide fire protection to themselves.

          Comment


          • #6
            Wow, Im from Upstate, NY and I havent heard anything about this topic. What area is this department in. Id like to hear more about this topic. I think, yes, a persons religious beliefs are very personal to some. But, I agree with others comments in here that, what happens when they get injured? Sue the dept! I think standards and guidelines are set for a reason, to provide the best protection available to all of us. If a mask is developed which meets the standards, and allows the person to keep the beard, I wouldnt mind it. Until that day comes, I say no to beards, because its affecting the safety of that firefighter, not only more prone to burns, but it could affect the seal on mask! It is proven that smoke does not do a body good. Im looking forward to seeing more posted on this issue.

            -Stay Safe



            ------------------
            -Be Safe
            (The above comments do not reflect those of my department or other members)

            Comment


            • #7
              One of my most memorable moments in my time at the NY State Fire Academy was when Lt. Mike Wilbur (of FDNY and columnist for Firehouse Magazine) was showing the class some pictures he had collected over the years. The topic was "What NOT to do". One of the pictures was of a newspaper clipping from a rural town. In it was at least half of the local FD turning in their bunker gear and quitting. Why? The NFPA rule on beards came out and instead of conforming for their own personal safety, they quit. This left the already small department dangerously under-manned. I felt this was a perfect illustration of how firefighters sometimes can't see the big picture when it comes to change or safety "for one's own good". The inability of one's safety equipment to properly fit because of something physical (say... a smaller head) is the responsibility of the department/organization to remedy (buy the person a smaller face mask) to prevent discrimination. However, alterations to one's self that are voluntary should not be the department's responsibility to work around. If the people in question can't/won't make the change then they should be given different responsibilities within the department/city (not fired or forced out because the hair is pre-existing to them being hired in the first place).

              If they were hired with hair that violates a rule, then they should either conform or move on to different jobs, and the city should be more careful in the future.

              ------------------
              "Back off man... I'm a Scientist."

              Comment


              • #8
                My opinion:

                It's time for ALL firefighters to leave their politics, religion, ethnicity, race, sex, pride, and prejudices outside the firehouse door and get to work looking out for the life and safety of each other.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have two questions;
                  1. Did these firefighters pass a SCBA mask fit test?
                  2. Why didn't the Chief enforce the rule sooner?
                  At any rate I'll bet that the fire department is pretty lenient with vacation or personal days for religious hoildays, or at least very tolerant towards dietary needs and prayer times - but safety is job one - period!

                  I checked and Scott provided an Operating and Maintenance Instructions Booklet with each 4.5 unit we bought. It's #89292-01 and on page 2 it says, quote: "WARNING Respirators shall not be worn when conditions prevent a good face seal. Such conditions may include but not be limited to, growth of beards, sideburns, a skullcap that projects under the facepiece, or temple pieces on glasses. Also the absence of one or both dentures can seriously affect the fit of a facepiece."

                  I'm pretty sure all the other SCBA manufacturers have similar warnings. We can't possibly ignore 'Warning High Voltage' signs so why ignore a warning of at least equal or greater importance?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    These are the rules of the dept, either follow them or leave! Maybe thats being "intollerant" or "Politically incorrect" but its about time everyone takes a little more pride in themselves and their department instead of dividing it on such stupid issues.
                    If they were hired with it and it was against policy, then the city is at fault for letting it go as long as it did. Goodbye to the person who hired them as well as whoever doesn't want to shave or cut those [email protected] ugly dreads!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      alterations to one's self that are voluntary should not be the department's responsibility to work around.

                      Of course, it is the act of shaving that is the alteration...otherwise we'd all have beards

                      However, having excessive facial hair that interferes with a proper seal is a problem. And unfortunately, that means either get a dispensation from your religous leaders to remove the beard or find another line of work. In many volunteer departments, there are support roles that people can move too...in career outfits you don't have the spare staff to do that.

                      I do say *excessive* facial hair, 'cause I do think the no facial hair rule is too strict in light of us using Positive Pressure SCBA. But considering the same people who make the no facial hair rule also require us to do a fit test with a totally different type of respirator (one that isn't positive pressure) then we actually use, you probably won't see it change soon.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Good one GRIT.
                        This is another case of banner waving BS. You took the job. It's a profession. If your religion takes priority over your profession, then leave. You can't have both in this case. For safety sake.
                        In a different case, appearance is half the battle of public image. The other half, I feel, is ones conduct. You look and act like a pro, people will perceive you as a pro. What you do will be of authority. I our case this perception could be the difference between life and death, not to be dramatic.
                        It's my opinion that beards look untidy and therefore don't belong on a civil servant.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          NFPA 1500! Thats all that needs to be said. And i hope these guys have their funeral arrangements already complete.

                          ------------------
                          Captain James Collier
                          McMahan Fire Rescue
                          KCTCS Area 6 Instructor

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            For the President of the Local IAFF to make a statement in this matter is a slap to every dedicated card carrying member of the PROFESSIONAL Fire Service. You remember those people..the ones that are here to do the job.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If I read the article correctly, This is an old policy just recently being enforced correct? That means the policy was most likely in affect when these folks were hired on and "Got by" with out comforming to it. To me it's a simple decision. Comform or get a new job. If they would have read the policies before they were hired they would have known this day was coming. Now that it has the sue happy people are using anything and everything to get what they want even if it is against written policy.
                              I could see this being more difficult if the policy were a new one, but it sounds to me that they knew this was coming from the day they were hired.

                              Comment

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