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Facial Hair?

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  • #16
    The career firefighters in my department are supposed to be clean-shaven. Facial hair should be limited to a moustache only. For the volunteer division, however... Anything goes. One of our most dedicated volunteers has a full beard and has always claimed that it did not interfere with him getting a good seal. Yesterday, he proved he had no problems when he passed fit testing with his full beard.


    • #17
      Wow! you're in school and you still have the goatee!

      When I started, The first day I walked in to class the teacher made an example of me and showed the class how not to come to school. He pointed to my goatee and plainly said if this is not off your face by the next class, don't bother showing up.

      That was a LONG time ago and I can tell you it must have had some effect on me because I've been a mustache-only guy ever since.

      Seriously, like everyone said, it doesn't make sense to have it. Right or wrong, religous reasons or not, you owe it to yourself to be as safe as possible and when something like this can come in the way of a good seal on your scba it needs to go.


      • #18
        Gonzo, wrong.

        The fit test requirements are independent of the use requirements, where the hair requirements reside. A sucessful fit test does not get you out of the hair requirements, summarized in English below from OSHA's web site:

        It does not matter if hair is allowed to grow on other areas of the face, if it does not protrude under the respirator seal, or extend far enough to interfere with the device's function (such as the interference with valve function). Accordingly, short mustaches, sideburns and small goatees that are trimmed so that no hair underlies the seal of the respirator present no hazard and do not violate [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(1)(i)]. In general, however, beards present serious problems of acceptability because their texture and density vary daily, there is no consistency to respirator fit, and there is higher leakage.


        • #19
          more info

          from the preamble to the OSHA Respiratory Standard:

          OSHA does not find this study a persuasive basis for changing its position on facial hair. The fact that an acceptable protection factor can be obtained for a bearded respirator wearer in a workplace protection factor study does not mean that the worker can achieve the same protection level each time the respirator is used. First, protection factor studies are designed to minimize program defects and are often conducted under very tight supervision, which is generally not typical of conditions in real workplaces. Second, beards grow and change daily, resulting in variability of protection from one day to the next.


          • #20
            On the days I work I keep my face clean shaven but on my days off (like this weekend when I'm off Fri, Sat and Sunday) I usually let my face grow out. If I respond as a vollie to a call the little bit of stubble that I get from just 2, 3 at the most, days of growth is usually not enough to interfere with getting a seal. While I keep my face shaven others in my combo department sometimes have goatees when working. Just this month I worked 2 paid shifts with a partimmer who had a goatee. I guess it depends on who you are and where you work.
            EMT/Security Officer


            • #21
              posted by Grit76
              Gonzo, wrong.
              I don't set Department policy... I am just another Captain on an Engine company.
              ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
              Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


              • #22
                Most of us would be up in arms if our employers violated OSHA standards affecting our safety. Why do we then do it to ourselves? We've all taken the fit test and I think it's pretty obvious that it just doesn't compare to fighting a fire. Having to stay clean shaven is a small price to pay for being able to do this job.


                • #23
                  Shave it off!

                  If you're testing: Beards are out; mustaches are a gray area. When in doubt, shave it off. Don’t wear cell phones, pagers or any other electronic leases.

                  When my son was trying to become a firefighter I begged him to shave off his mustache. He said Dad this took me 26-years to grow and I'm not going to shave it off. He got hired. He got married and his wife made him shave it off. Go figure.

                  Captain Bob


                  "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

                  More Tips on getting hired and promoted by Firehouse Contributing Author Fire “Captain Bob” Articles here:

                  Fire "Captain Bob"



                  • #24
                    On my department you cannot have any facial hair below your upper lip and no more then a days growth. If you show up to work "scruffy" the deputy will make you shave asap.


                    • #25
                      I wonder if it would matter if the air was continuously feeding the mask making it a positive air lock. Kind of like the air pushing out of any unsealed areas preventing anything from entering... then again if that were the case you would be losing precious air. Anyone know of any ba's like that?


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by wnfs0915 View Post
                        I wonder if it would matter if the air was continuously feeding the mask making it a positive air lock. Kind of like the air pushing out of any unsealed areas preventing anything from entering... then again if that were the case you would be losing precious air. Anyone know of any ba's like that?
                        First this thread was nearly 12 years old, so... But to answer your question the only SCBA's that I know that continually feed air the mask to ensure nothing is drawn in are all of the ones allowed for use in the U.S. Seriously, all BA's are now required to be "positive pressure", but as you allude to, losing air via facial hair is not good and is likely why facial hair will never be allowed in the seal area. Of course that's unless you have some sort of religious waiver in which case it's OK to put yourself and your crew at greater risk by not being able to work as long.


                        • #27
                          Depending on local rules and protocols facial hair policies very from none in between the seal and the skin to full blown beards.

                          Wisconsin Administrative Code SPS330, Chapter 12, paragraph 2, sentence d, is quite clear stating that no hair shall come between the skin and the face piece seal. Not you can have what you want if under perfect conditions you can get a seal. CLEARLY no beards, no goatees, no long mustaches, no "Elvis" sideburns, are allowed with SCBA. Yet we still see many departments violating that rule. Why? Perhaps ignorance of the rule, perhaps good old boy they'll quit if we make them shave, perhaps a failure to understand the liability that the chief and the department take on...I don't know.

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