I have been wanting to be a firefighter since i was 9..... Now that im 18 i still very much want too. I have 2 tattoos. 1. Is a "crown of thorns" arm band around my bicep. ( able to be covered by a tshirt) but i have another one... The word "perseverance" on the underside of my right forearm. Its pretty big but well done. I really want to become a firefighter. Will this affect me from getting a paid position or even being a volunteer?

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Don't expect me to jump on the bandwagon defending how they, and that would be LA area FD's hiring standards that dictate tattoo policies. There is so much bullshit that the rank and file folks have to deal with sometimes. For what it's worth, I've always wanted to have a couple of tattoos but have had to wait until I retired to do so.
Read one of the prior posts that stated that the local EMS provider wanted anyone with tattoos to cover them up. Tatoo discrimination is not limited to SoCal. Another factor is plain competetition for a handful of jobs that pay REALLY well. So all of us simply don't go there. We don't write the rules. Conservative opinions groups anyone with tats to be "biker types".
Perhaps the same assholes who ensure that things like nepotism stays alive in the fire service... Don't beat up the messenger. I'm the one that had to deal with these idiots.
"the EMS services in my area..."

Again, tattoo discrimination is not limited to SoCal fire departments like LA City FD.
More clarification... My department is 100 miles North of LA. Our policy is no visible tattoos. Long sleeve shirts are a way of life for those folks that have "visible tattoos".
Keith - Remember, the mentioned swim test that is used as the discriminator means that as a prospective employee you would not have much of a case. I'm going to have to look it up but the pre employment requirements state no tattoos. When you have thousands applying for just a handful if jobs, the last thing you would want to do is make waves. Not all departments are as anal as LAFD, but the standards are set in stone. Tough love dude.

Mike, i don't want to beat up the messenger, i just get so pissed when "big brother / sister" tell me what i can do / is good for me..  They should hire on If "you" can or want to do the job. But no matter  I'll stick with the east coast / So. east. 

Stay safe mike

first of all, don't give up on the thought of being a firefighter. if you have wanted to be one for so long then do it. I've been a vollie for 13 years. i have 6 tats myself. none of my chiefs through the years have ever had a problem with it. i have several career friends that depending on the content of the tat is whether it has to be covered or not. and as far a LAFD they are doing nothing but setting themselves up for a major discrimination lawsuit. to do a swim test to look for ink could be considered as discrimination. a good attorney would eat that up. this is just my 2 cents.



I saw a show called First In. It is a cops style show that followed around a Compton fd. On the the show the Bat.Chief had full sleeves and tats on his neck. So I know it can't be all of Cali that is that way.

I have one tatto on my back, and I doubt that 90% of my department even know that I have it. We have others with tattos as well and as long as they are not offensive or can be covered it has not been an issue. Actually I believe that my Chief has one on his calf.

LAFD has the most stringent policy in regard to tattoos. Everyone else pretty much makes firefighters cover up their tattoos. Bottom line for potential new hires is to not have any tattoos. Sure, you can sue for discrimination but keep in mind the last thing a department wants is a troublemaker. The latest policy revision came out May 2011, and has left veteran firefighters feeling like outcasts.

Jack -

Ha. "perseverence."

Good luck with that. I happened to be at the desk today while some potential FF's came in to sign the list. One I thought was looking for a cutting and welding permit because he showed up unshaven in a torn sweatshirt full of holes. Maybe it was to cover his tattoos.

Yeah, keep tryin that and let me know how it works out for ya, kid.


Yeah, you probably didn't consider that there are a hundred guys in line for the job.

Or that appearance counts. 

Shake your fist about how "unfair" it is to judge on how a person looks, but it also has to do with how much a person wants to fit in, or stand out and buck the system. Also about how they consider the consequences of their actions.


this question reminds me of "guys with earrings" stuff back in the 70's. those that "demanded" to wear one because of their right to do so stopped after the first worker...(for some reason)...as for tats as you describe them, i see no problem with them, the department is hiring you, not the tats. good luck to you

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