In the past, before oxygen masks were available, firefighters wore mustaches so they could breathe better in burning buildings. Today, firefighters wear mustaches to hark back to and strengthen those roots and to support a sense of brotherhood among firefighters.
The Department’s hair and beard regulations state that a firefighter must be clean-shaven to achieve a close fit with the current mask facepiece – with the exception of a well-trimmed mustache. p>
The history of firefighters and facial hair
The shape of the mask means that mustache and sideburns are not a big issue. Firefighters have long been able to grow these instead of a full beard. Mustaches were a tradition even among firefighters, perhaps a sign of masculinity in this tough profession.
Officials argued that these beards posed a safety hazard so firefighters had to shave them off before they could return to their normal duties. Previously, about 30 firefighters were exempted from this rule because they were prone to painful razor bumps.
As a firefighter you must wear a face mask when wearing a respirator. To ensure the face mask seals the face, the face must remain shaved to prevent hazardous airborne chemicals from entering the face mask.
Some attribute it to the Wild West and the decorated mustaches that were common in the 19th century. Rural police forces in particular trace much of their terminology and tradition back to the frontier sheriff and claim to wear facial hair in honor of those predecessors.
Numerous firefighters from the local fire department have volunteered to have their hair shaved as a gesture of solidarity after being diagnosed with cancer this summer.
In short, yes, firefighters can have tattoos. But tattoos are often frowned upon by firefighters. In most fire departments, tattooed firefighters are expected to cover up at all times while on duty. Even if the tattoo is not offensive.
Only wealthy, powerful men like bankers, landowners, and politicians used to smoke cigars, and maybe police officers and firefighters felt rich by smoking a good Cuban. However, cigar smoking is a form of bonding, and bonds between first responders are not getting much stronger.
You may or may not have long hair or dreads as a firefighter. Firefighters are almost always forbidden to wear beards.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court ruling that found the FDNY must provide housing for firefighters with a skin condition to wear beards.