New Rule Compels Los Angeles Firefighters to Cover Tattoos
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Los Angeles firefighters are heated up over a new policy that requires them to cover all visible tattoos while on the job, no matter whether they're responding to a call or making dinner in the firehouse.
Since the policy took effect May 1, firefighters complain they've had to wear sweatshirts, long sleeves, and even skin patches to hide their body art.
David Navarro, 50, developed a rash from the patch he wears over the American eagle imprinted on his forearm.
The veteran got the tattoo while in the Marine Corps and said he never once heard a complaint about his or other firefighters' tattoos. In fact, he said, he now gets more questions from people about the patch; they ask if he was burned or hurt on the job.
"A tattoo isn't a safety issue. They just say it's about appearance," Navarro said. "I find it offensive in a way. You're making me hide my pride for the military. I served my country for 27 years, and now they're saying 'Your eagle is no good'?"
But LAFD officials said they're simply following the lead of other public-safety agencies that have cracked down on employees who come to work covered in body art.
"The majority of our members think it's a good policy," said LAFD Deputy Chief Emile Mack, who signed the new rule. "They look at what our image is when we come into contact with the public. We have hair standards and uniform standards, and those aren't about the fire station but how we appear when we're providing service to the public."
The policy was in the works for at least five years, and the firefighters' union had urged a prohibition on offensive tattoos. The two sides had agreed to go to an independent arbiter, who heard the facts and agreed with the union's proposal.
The fire department enacted the complete ban anyway, said Jon McDuffie, vice president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City. "It wasn't a gradual plan. Nothing was grandfathered in," McDuffie said. "It was: 'Cover it up. Cover it up now. Never show it again, period.' It was rather Draconian."
Last week, the union filed a grievance after one chief officer instructed captains to check firefighters to make sure their tattoos were covered while they were sleeping. The policy change especially bothered some longtime firefighters, who suddenly found their tattoos had to be covered.
"I have lived, eaten and breathed the fire service for 20 years, and all of a sudden management does not consider my appearance professional. I'm a black sheep," said John O'Connor, a longtime firefighter who has flames and fire-service tattoos over most of his arms.
O'Connor said he wants the Fire Department to change the policy so the prohibition on exposed tattoos would only apply to new body art. Or at least, he said, loosen the restrictions in the firehouse.
Firefighter Anthony Temple, 30, agreed. "I don't mind wearing long sleeves when I'm out on a call if there's a public- perception issue," said Temple, who has what he calls a classic American tattoo - a collage of roses, ships, birds and clouds wound around his left arm to the wrist.
"My one big problem is the firehouse. I live there 24 hours a day, a minimum of 10 days a month. I feel like that's my house. It's where I live with my colleagues.
"They want us to maintain a professional appearance in public - OK. But in the fire station, when we're cleaning and working on equipment too?"
While some firefighters with tattoos may be unhappy with the new rule, Mack said the department was trying to create a consistent policy. Allowing exposed tattoos in the firehouse was considered, Mack said. "But ultimately we had to look at why we're implementing the policy. What image, ultimately, does the public see when we come out to serve them?"
The Fire Department is following the lead of the Los Angeles Police Department, which adopted a tattoo policy five years ago that requires officers to cover exposed tattoos. The LAPD said there was grumbling and complaints from officers then but that the policy is now accepted and there have been no officers disciplined for violating the rule.
Even the military is cracking down on tattoos. Tattoos were once almost a rite of passage for young Marines, but last year the Marine Corps prohibited new body art on the head and neck or covering arms or legs.
Top Marine brass felt the tattoo craze was getting out of hand, especially the proliferation of "sleeve" tattoos that decorate almost the full arm or leg, and are increasingly popular with young people.
The policy exempted existing tattoos, and Marines had to photograph and document their body art before the ban took effect last July.
City Councilman Dennis Zine, who heads the council's personnel committee and is a retired LAPD officer, said he has no problem with the department's tattoo policy.
"The Fire Department has a responsibility to project a professional image," Zine said.
"When you're given grooming standards for hair and facial hair, this just becomes another grooming standard."
______________________________ ______________________________ _____
So...after reading the above article, what are your views on this policy??? I'll interject after this has marinated for a while.
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06-24-2008, 07:31 PM #1
Los Angeles Fire Department drops the hammer on tattoo's__________________
"Too many freaks and not enough circuses!"
06-24-2008, 09:46 PM #2
.. ..The floggings will continue until morale improves.
06-24-2008, 10:12 PM #3
It's a stupid policy.
It is so stupid in fact, that they should be sending guys to the hospital with heat exhaustion at every incident, due to being forced into wearing long sleeves
It's particularly stupid to enact this policy on existing members. If a policy change is wanted, it should be placed onto new hires. The policy was not there when the current members were hired, and as such all current members should be grand-fathered. (not that I like the policy) Maybe they would have turned the job down, had this policy been in place. Maybe they wouldn't get that new tattoo, who knows. In any event, it wasn't there when they agreed to the terms of employment, and as such, they should not held to this ridiculous policy. This is a great way to wreck the morale of a good department.
If it is listed as a condition of employment, it is harder to fight against a policy if it exists and you agree to it when you're hired.
Last edited by jasper45; 06-24-2008 at 10:20 PM.
06-24-2008, 10:47 PM #4
The US Navy, US Marine Corps, and the US Air Force have all began policy changes that prohibit the exposure of any tattoo that can not be covered up by a short sleeve shirt. This applies for all new recruits entering service. If they have a pre-existing tattoo on the forearm for example, it has to be cleared (IE- no known gang affiliation). Even then, it might prove difficult unless the recruiter is desperate.
For service members with existing tattoo's, I know in the Navy they are expressly forbidden to wear short sleeve utility shirts (everyday shirts). They need to have a command approved waiver from medical and the commanding officer, and it has been proved to be a deterrent to advancement to many.
Not saying I agree with the the military policy or the LAFD's. However, many FD's try and model (for lack of a better word) themselves after the military. I think as the military becomes more stricter with the tattoo policies many branches are creating and enforcing, you will see more FD's and PD's follow suit.Co 11
Virginia Beach FD
Amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong. Which one are you?
'The fire went out and nobody got hurt' is a poor excuse for a fireground critique.
06-25-2008, 08:03 AM #5
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
I hadn't realized that our armed forces recruiters were in a position to be picky."Yeah, but as I've always said, this country has A.D.D." - Denis Leary
06-25-2008, 05:45 PM #6
I can see a class action law suit coming in LA and also by the local too on freedom of speach.
As far as the military, they have changed so much in the last 20 years that if a member doesn't want to march he or she can sit on the side of the street and watch. Ever since slick willie was in office, the military have gone through a extreme about face!!
Bring back the draft for 2 years. Every one should serve. PERIOD!Stay Safe and Well Out There....
Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers
06-25-2008, 07:30 PM #7Ever since slick willie was in office, the military have gone through a extreme about face!!
If you have a flat tire, do you blame that on some politician that's been out of office for nearly eight years, too?
06-25-2008, 09:44 PM #8
marching was rather silly and a colossal waste of time.Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."
06-26-2008, 12:23 PM #9
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
- Memphis Tn,USA-now
No,just that Clinton was a bigger detriment to the military than any CO decreeing that alcohol was no longer allowed for consumption on or off base irregardless of if you were on Liberty.
Though my tats are not normally on view unless I take my shirt off,I have no problem with visible tattoos.The only real concern I have is years down the road is when the bunny that Grandma got when she was on Spring Break back in 2000 turns into a kangaroo.
If the dept has a problem with tattoos,it should be implemented on new hires,as mentioned earlier,and current service folks should be allowed to continue displaying them.Only if they are obscene(remember Uncle Bob's nekkid dancing lady on his bicep?) or are gang related should they be covered or removed at owner's expense.
06-26-2008, 09:14 PM #10
By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer
Monday, May 12, 2008
(05-12) 12:52 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --
The Marine Corps far surpassed its recruiting goal last month and could eventually be more than a year ahead of schedule in its plan to grow the force to 202,000 members.
All military services met or exceeded their monthly recruiting goals in April, with the Marine Corps signing 142 percent of the number it was looking for, the Pentagon said.
The Army signed 101 percent of its goal, recruiting 5,681 against a goal of 5,650. The Navy and Air Force met their goals — 2,905 sailors and 2,435 airmen.
The Marine Corps enlisted 2,233 recruits against a goal of 1,577.
"The Marine Corps, if they continue to achieve the kind of success they have had, could meet their growth figures more than a year early," Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters. That would mean by around the end of 2009.
Stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon last year recommended that the Army be increased by about 65,000 soldiers to a total of 547,000, and the Marines be increased by 27,000 to 202,000.
Recruiting is easier in a slow economy, which limits other job possibilities that are available. But officials also noted that the Army and Marines have added recruiters as well as bonuses and other special benefits to attract more recruits in the midst of the unpopular war in Iraq.
06-26-2008, 11:01 PM #11Recruiting is easier in a slow economy, which limits other job possibilities that are available.
06-26-2008, 11:24 PM #12
06-27-2008, 02:20 PM #13
Wow 12 posts and totally off of the subject.....not a record but nice work you asshats.I.A.C.O.J IRISH TATTOOED-HOOLIGAN
DETROIT FIRE FIGHTER AND PROUD!
06-27-2008, 03:17 PM #14
06-27-2008, 04:12 PM #15
Nothing new...A lot of FD's (including mine) in this area have the same policies. Then again, the population here tends to be a bit "senior", and VERY conservative. These folks seem to frown on things like tats...Fire Marshal/Safety Officer
"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
Success is when skill meets opportunity
Failure is when fantasy meets reality
06-27-2008, 04:23 PM #16
- Join Date
- May 1999
- Here, There, Everywhere
Simple solution...every member who is subject to this silly policy, wear long sleve shirts.
- Go to work.
- Wait for job.
- Go to job.
- Work at job.
- Tap out from heat exhaustion/stress after job.
- Get a few tours off to recover.
- Obviously the city will have to hire OT in most cases to cover vacancies.
- Rinse and repeat cylce until the city finds some middle ground.
06-28-2008, 11:41 AM #17
06-30-2008, 08:31 AM #18I guess you didn't see my sarcasm in # 2 towards their new order.
Ah yes, the nearly age old argument about visible ink. I engage in this argument on a near monthly basis with a variety of people all of which would be eliminated during the U.S. Geography 2nd grade question on “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader.” Usually its some pain in the posterior officer from some "Burb" department talking about my Tattoos (full sleeve on my right 3/4 on my left). Most contest that to be professional by their narrow minded definition you simply have to “Look” professional placing heavy emphasis on polished boots neatly pressed (and dangerous I may add) polyester shirts.
Nothing is said of a Professional attitude and demeanor that you can in fact take the largest pile of **** in the department (or ten of them for that matter) dress them in a Class A Uniform and they still will be the most unprofessional professional firefighter to walk the face of the earth. It’s their attitude that will give them away every single time, their air of incompetence, and general grotesque inability to do much outside of breathing the correct way.
Perhaps if management focused a little more on the Acting and a little on the Looking they might actually discover that people don’t particularly care how we look…Don’t believe me, look at the last 50 or so thank you letters sent to the department for services provided to the citizens I can guar-damn-tee they refer to “Acted Professional and Treated me like a Professional.”
I can also tell you that a person well enough to notice scuffed boots and tattoos probably should have refrained from burdening the already abused 911 system with their petty bull****.I.A.C.O.J IRISH TATTOOED-HOOLIGAN
DETROIT FIRE FIGHTER AND PROUD!
06-30-2008, 02:13 PM #19
I agree with your words. Sady enough every department has it's share of upper eschelon that feels shined shoes and a starched shirt (along with no ink) will put out a fire. Either they forget where they came from or were never really there and crawled into some administrative job away from fire early in their career...Just my opinion.
07-01-2008, 12:15 PM #20
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
- Memphis Tn,USA-now
THERE's a neo-con warmonger for ya.
Now can we get back on discussing whether tattoos are appropriate for first responders or if we all have to keep our noses clean in our youth and not get tattooed?Please?
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