can a firefighter have beard???

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It use to beallowed years back BUT today if you wear a SCBA mask or medical mask its not allowed because of getting a good seal or sanitary conditions.

Maybe if you stop riding calls it would beallowed. Our county has a chaplain who has one of those beards that runs around his chin to his sideburns and keeps it trimed that way.

Mustaches should be kept trimed and out of the seal area of a SCBA mask.

normally a dept policy about beards

There are many fire departments that allow beards.  It is an unproven myth that one can not establish a seal for an SCBA mask with a beard. Also, by today's SCBA's being the positive pressure type, an air tight seal is not necessary.  It is out of a tradition of ignorance that fire departments continue to base their respective facial hair policies on not being able to establish an air tight mask seal.  How many of these departments have actually tested members with beards in order to prove or disprove this myth? Ther are fire departments who allow facial hair for religious reasons such as Washnigton DC and others. These fire departments were involved in civil law suits over the member's right to fully practice their respective religions. So, to answer the question correctly whether or not a firefighter can have a beard, one should say, "it depends on the policies of the individual municipalities."

No hair is to be below the upper lip in our state per Virginia Department of Fire Programs. 

Was DC where the firefighters that had full beards were trying to get allowance to have them on religious practices a couple years ago? I remember an article but not where the FD was?

I know of combination FD's that have volunteers with beards but they are not allowed to perform interior ops, strictly exterior only but the volunteers in those depts are ok with that. My fd has allowed some facial hair but we have never had anyone with a full beard that was allowed to pack up. Being 100% from home volunteer we don't require members to be completely clean shaven but most everyone has less than a couple days of stuble at the most.

Sorry but your all wrong. The correct answer is yes if he can grow one, no if he's a she and not a very hairy she.

The question should have been should firefighters be allowed to grow beards?

I had a bread when I was active but usually I drove and luckily we had enough people I didn't have to worry about going in. And yes I had my gear with me just in case and would have if needed too.


Note: I love beards and absolutely hate shaving... But, firefighters actively doing this job can't afford to have the mask lose it's seal, potentially exposing the firefighter to hazardous materials that can cause immediate death or cancer in the long run. Risk vs. Benefit...

The seals on all SCBA masks are the same as those on military respirators used to protect against chemical attack. The seal is designed to work with up to one days growth on the face but not a full beard. Why take the chance? The first time the seal isn't right and you run out of air too quickly, you're affecting not just yourself but the operation efficiency of the whole scene. While I respect ones freedom to express themselves and their religion, I just don't think it's worth risking one's life in the event that the seal isn't perfect. From a liability standpoint, if someone does not want to be clean shaven, perhaps this isn't the right profession for them. 

What does OSHA say?


Facepiece seal protection.


The employer shall not permit respirators with tight-fitting facepieces to be worn by employees who have:


Facial hair that comes between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face or that interferes with valve function; or


Any condition that interferes with the face-to-facepiece seal or valve function.


If an employee wears corrective glasses or goggles or other personal protective equipment, the employer shall ensure that such equipment is worn in a manner that does not interfere with the seal of the facepiece to the face of the user.


For all tight-fitting respirators, the employer shall ensure that employees perform a user seal check each time they put on the respirator using the procedures in Appendix B-1 or procedures recommended by the respirator manufacturer that the employer demonstrates are as effective as those in Appendix B-1 of this section.


Bingo, Mike.  


If you live in a so-called "OSHA" state ( a state which adopts federal laws to protect employees in the workplace) then 1910.134 is the gospel.


Any department in one of these states that does not have clear-cut policies that ensure compliance with 29 CFR is at risk for substantial fines, should an unfortunate incident occur.

Short answer: NO.  No regulatory agency involved in rules for self contained breathing apparatus allow facial hair between the seal of the mask and the skin.  PERIOD.  Positive pressure was not designed to allow facial hair, it was designed to ensure that IF there was a leak in the seal the air would blow out instead of letting contaminants in.  In Wisconsin it is the law because the NFPA standard was adopted.


When I was Chief of my #1 POC FD our policy was NO ONE with facial hair was allowed to wear SCBA or operate in a hazardous, or potentially hazardous, atmosphere.


IF your FD allows you to wear a beard they assume the risk if they allow you to wear an SCBA.  I was not willing to assume that risk as chief.  In my opinion, IF your FD allows it this is the place for a guy to drive and pump, or direct traffic, but they have no business being in the hot zone of a fire.  I also believe though, and here lies the conflict for me, that EVERYONE on the fire department must be able to operate interior. 

and... We aren't even talking about wearing respirators where you don't have the benefit of the positive pressure. What then?

Speaking as someone who once lost the seal due to a beard, I can tell you; You will not like the feeling of that sudden inhalation of smoke.

I initially had a seal during live burn rescue exercise. Going in after the second victim, I lost the seal. It is not a myth, nor is it unproven to me. Beards and masks do not play well together.

My department has a no beard policy, as do most of the training centers in our area.

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