what is everybodies departments rules about shaving and packing up. im just curious cause our department doesnt really have a rule or sop regarding this, but i have heard of it being a rule in other dep. that you have to be clean shaven or you cant pack up.

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@shareef - As long as you are not compromising safety and are following your departments SOPs I don't see a problem. However, I would like to know what research you are alluding to regarding facial hair and SCBA. It is my understanding that in Iowa you cannot test out for FFI & II with facial hair because of the safety issue and NFPA standards. I might be wrong about this, but at all our fire schools they state that persons with facial hair will not be able to participate in any live fire structural firefighter training. I know lots of guys on volunteer departments who would be willing to pack up if they didn't have to shave.

Please everyone understand one thing: The federal OSHA standard on respiratory protection states that you cannot have facial hair at all - none - zip - zilch - while wearing a respirator in IDLH atmospheres. YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY FACIAL HAIR COME IN CONTACT WITH THE SEAL OF THE FACEPIECE - NONE AT ALL - NOT EVEN WHILE PERFORMING AN ANNUAL FIT TEST OF THE MASK  - WHETHER OR NOT YOUR MASK PASSES THE TEST WITH HAIR IN THE SEAL. You as an authority having jursidiction must ensure your personnel follow this standard. This is not new. Please look at the law as it was written and enacted in October of 1998. It is to be followed by all 50 states and territories. 1910.134 are the numbers. Please do not make this something it isn't and just protect your people. That is our job as supervisors, Chiefs, Safety Officers. No more, no less. Any questions, I would be more than happy to oblige anyone in need of assistance. Have a safe evening!

you can have a mustache but besides that no other face hair. no more than 1 days growth.

Rob, the research that I am referring to is extensive but in short it is two fold..  1st DCFD along with other municipalities  did a study as a result of a religious discrimination law suit some years back and it was proven that due to modern technology and advancements in positive pressure SCBA face masks that the old myth of not being able to get a "seal" with facial hair is false.  Secondly, I took a SCBA fit test myself with a beard and then took the same test with the same mask and same testing equipment administered by the same person  w/o a beard and the results were exactly the same. Different facial sizes and contours are more determining in SCBA fit test results than facial hair has ever been.

The issue is that most departments will not even allow the members to challenge a SCBA mask fit test with a beard so how can anyone ever say that it can't be done. In order to have proof, we must be tested and if we are proven wrong than so be it and we will stand down.  But, without the test, those administrations that are preaching the "clean shaven" theory have no legitimate basis for their argument. 

Traditions in the Fire Service should be upheld and cherished until those same traditions are proven to be discriminatory in any way shape or form.  We have to get our heads out of the sand, our minds out of the past, and embrace the future if we want to survive as a Fire Service.

T.J., to not allow a person a certain thing based on his/her religion is a slippery slope my friend and without documented facts and results the argument is baseless.

No regulatory agency allows facial hair to come between the skin and the seal of the mask.  This includes MSHA, OSHA, and the NFPA.  The reason is simple, the seal will fail if facial hair is in the way.  Especially after your face becomes sweaty.


In Wisconsin, eventually FDs will realize that they are, in my opinion, in violation of state law for allowing firefighters to wear SCBA while they have a beard.  This is  direct copy and paste from SPS 330: 

"(d) A fire fighter may not wear a beard or facial hair that comes

in contact with a facepiece seal if the fire fighter’s duties require

him or her to use a self−contained breathing apparatus. If a fire

fighter wears eyeglasses, the fire fighter shall use frames that do

not pass through the seal area of the facepiece."


As well as having adopted into SPS 330 the NFPA Standard 1981-1987 Standard on Open Circuit SCBA for the fire service.


Also, let's clear up what positive pressure SCBA were designed for.  They were absolutely NOT designed to allow someone to wear a bead and leak air out all the time they have the mask on.  It was designed for those times when you lose your seal and instead of sucking in contaminants the postive pressure would protect you until you could fix your mask.  If the mask seal is right NO AIR SHOULD LEAK OUT EVER.


I must admit I grow weary of people that want to be firefighters but can't bring themselves to follow clear standards of behavior and grooming to become one.  Every job, organization, and religion, have rules and if you want to be a member you follow them.  It is that simple.  As an officer I do not want the responsibility of a firefighter that has no regard for their own safety and places the rest of the crew in danger while doing it.  As an instuctor I have no choice in the matter, you want to go into a hazardous atmosphere you will be clean shaven to allow a proper facepiece seal.

Bad post TJ, you forgot about the amish who also have beards and the same religious problem and are our counrtymen also. dont apply your opinion as "the rules of the USA". common sense takes over and its a safety issue not a religious one. but as long as ANYONE can meet the standard safely, thats all that SHOULD matter

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