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  1. #1
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    Default Jews, Muslims and Christians unite as DC Fire Department bans beards...

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satelli...ticle/ShowFull

    Steven Chasin is the first to admit he isn't the world's most observant Jew.
    Tattoos, a Jewish taboo, cover his burly body, while his shaved head goes bare. He doesn't go to synagogue every Shabbat or keep all the laws of kashrut.

    He doesn't even hold what he calls a "Jewish type of job," like being a doctor or a lawyer.

    "I'm not the perfect Jew," is how Chasin, a 40-year-old Fire Department paramedic from Virginia, puts it. But he has always strongly identified as one, and used outward symbols to reinforce the point, including the Star of David pendant that hangs around his neck and the full, brown beard that has graced his face for the past two decades.

    "The beard is my way of celebrating and practicing," he explains. "The beard is making up for some of the stuff I don't do."

    So when Chasin was told that he would have to remove it to comply with fire department regulations, he didn't take it well.

    "It's frustrating. It's depressing also, because it doesn't impact my job," he says.

    But that's not how the Washington DC Fire Department sees it. It considers the regulation necessary for safety reasons, and threatens those who don't comply with dismissal.

    So Chasin, along with six Muslims and Nazarene Christians, filed suit, charging that they should be accommodated on grounds of religious freedom.

    The District of Columbia District Court has sided with them, but the city is appealing. A hearing is scheduled for October 7.

    The fire department argues that a beard can interfere with certain gas and oxygen masks that need an airtight seal with one's face to work. The department doesn't want to have firefighters and emergency medical technicians sent into harm's way if there are concerns about the effectiveness of the seals.

    But the court found that it would take exceptional circumstances for the department to need to send men into range of dangerous gases with only the type of mask at issue; in most cases, other masks work, and even in the first unlikely scenario, those emergency workers could handle other parts of the rescue operation.

    But the department continues to insist it's a safety hazard.

    "You cannot have facial hair and expect to have a quality seal on your facemask," says DC Fire and EMS Department spokesman Alan Etter. "We're certainly not trying to suppress anyone's right to express themselves religiously. We have to keep people safe."

    He also rejected the allegation that the shaving requirement was a "grooming issue," implemented to instill order and uniformity, though Chasin believes that consideration is behind the regulation, since it wasn't always on the books.

    Chasin's lawyer, Art Spitzer of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington office, says freedom of religion statutes mean fire department and other workplaces must make "reasonable accommodation" of religious beliefs.

    In this case, he says there was no question about the sincerity of those religious beliefs on the part of any of the plaintiffs, and that "the real issue isn't the sincerity of the belief, but whether the belief can be accommodated."

    In this case, so far, the court has said it can.

    Continuing to work with a beard while the matter is pending has had its ups and downs, according to Chasin, with some co-workers being supportive and some looking askance.

    But the bottom line, he says, is that "standing up for our beliefs is what it came down to. It doesn't matter - being Jewish, being Muslim, being Nazarene - we stood up for what we believe is right and didn't let them bully us."


  2. #2

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    What a freakin' idiot. Does this moron do interior work or just work in the EMS division? Heck, it doesn't matter.... if the dept. has rules against facial hair (and they should) thats that. Either conform or find someplace else to work. Why the hell should the entire dept. change one thing just for a handful of individuals who now want to play the religion card. Was this something that was changed once you thought about, maybe did a little research into, and then applied for to become a firefighter? Did they not have a clue firefighters can't have beards for safety reasons? Did they have the beard when they applied and were interviewed by the department or grow them after being hired? You certainly can't do interior work and wear an SCBA without getting some smoke in your mask. It's hard to do with a fresh shaven face once you get to sweating and working hard pulling hose and opening up walls. Your beliefs are your beliefs. And if your beliefs get in the way of something as important as safety (especially breathing in smoke at a working fire) find another job. No sympathy here.

  3. #3
    Forum Member MemphisE34a's Avatar
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    I call BS. Shave or go home.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    What a freakin moron! Thats the fire service dumb___. Firefighters don't have beards for a reason- you can't get a good seal on your facepiece and wind up breathing crap that could cost you your life. You can't go interior and fight fire, hump hose and open up walls with a beard and not breath smoke. Was this idiot aware of the no facial hair policy when he applied and then interviewed for the job. I can't imagine this guy having a full blown beard during the interview and not being made aware of it. If you really feel that strong about your faith and need the beard, find another job. In the fire service we don't wear them. And the fire service is not going to change just for a few idiots wanting to wear beards. Although I'm sure their rights are being violated somehow or another. Maybe they should let these idiots have their beards and fight fire. Eventually they'll eat enough smoke to weed out the gene pool. But then again they would probably shove a lawsuit up their depts keister costing the people they're sworn to protect more money.

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    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Hey.. I have an idea!

    If they want to keep the beard.... let them go work in the fire prevention bureau!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    I hope the DC is appealing on grounds that the beards don't comply with Federal OSHA regulations, because it seems that the court just changed them...

  7. #7
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    Fine, let them keep the beard. However, since a beard is deemed a safety issue, they then waive their rights to make any such claim from exposure to toxic fumes, heart/lung or that they don't get health insurance through the city, etc. If being clean shaven is a requirement for the job, then they should not be entitled to all the perks if they can not follow the rules.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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    What a freakin moron! Thats the fire service dumb___. Firefighters don't have beards for a reason- you can't get a good seal on your facepiece and wind up breathing crap that could cost you your life. You can't go interior and fight fire, hump hose and open up walls with a beard and not breath smoke. Was this idiot aware of the no facial hair policy when he applied and then interviewed for the job. I can't imagine this guy having a full blown beard during the interview and not being made aware of it. If you really feel that strong about your faith and need the beard, find another job. In the fire service we don't wear them. And the fire service is not going to change just for a few idiots wanting to wear beards. Although I'm sure their rights are being violated somehow or another. Maybe they should let these idiots have their beards and fight fire. Eventually they'll eat enough smoke to weed out the gene pool. But then again they would probably shove a lawsuit up their depts keister costing the people they're sworn to protect more money.

  9. #9
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    Angry Oh Lord!

    "So when Chasin was told that he would have to remove it to comply with fire department regulations, he didn't take it well."

    "It's frustrating. It's depressing also, because it doesn't impact my job," he says.

    But that's not how the Washington DC Fire Department sees it. It considers the regulation necessary for safety reasons, and threatens those who don't comply with dismissal.

    So Chasin, along with six Muslims and Nazarene Christians, filed suit, charging that they should be accommodated on grounds of religious freedom."


    Unbelievable! I do respect other people's religions but there is a safety concern that these people need to comply to. If they don't understand this, get the hell out of the fire service and find another job. I say shut up and put up. These kinds of things really irk me. And of course they are going to win their case! The minority seem to always win. I'm really sorry if I offend anyone in my posting, but there are reasons for rules and safety is nothing to be taken lightly.
    Last edited by GaPeach933; 09-20-2008 at 01:32 AM.

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    I'm gonna edit this the way I should have done it in the first place. I was slightly intoxicated at the time

    First off, dont sit there and talk about how your not a practicing religionist yet demand that you recieve your so called religious rights. Cops know that most municiplaities dont allow beards. IF you want to wear a beard, dont be a cop. Dont be a fireman.

    Dont sit back there and claim because of your religion you can get special preferance. I'm part Jewish but I know that I cant have a beard... I also make fun of my race so if you dont like it too bad.
    Same with muslims christians, jews, amish... all of them.

    At the same time, all of them should not be catered to. There are requirements there for a reason. This person is just someone who is looking to make a name for himself for bucking the system.
    Last edited by JHR1985; 09-21-2008 at 09:03 PM.
    The Box. You opened it. We Came...

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHR1985 View Post
    damn heebs....

    its pretty easy....

    tell them no... and put them in prevention, EMS headquarters,or so and so.
    Im williing to bet you say that to this guys face and it will be the last thing you say till the wires come off your jaw.

    The easy solution is to remove them from patient contact. You can not be protected from airborne pathogens if you can not properly wear a respirator mask.

  12. #12
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHR1985 View Post
    damn heebs....

    its pretty easy....

    tell them no... and put them in prevention, EMS headquarters,or so and so.
    In case you didn't notice, there are Christians and Muslims involved in this suit, too...
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by GaPeach933 View Post
    "So when Chasin was told that he would have to remove it to comply with fire department regulations, he didn't take it well."

    "It's frustrating. It's depressing also, because it doesn't impact my job," he says.

    But that's not how the Washington DC Fire Department sees it. It considers the regulation necessary for safety reasons, and threatens those who don't comply with dismissal.

    So Chasin, along with six Muslims and Nazarene Christians, filed suit, charging that they should be accommodated on grounds of religious freedom."


    Unbelievable! I do respect other people's religions but there is a safety concern that these people need to comply to. If they don't understand this, get the hell out of the fire service and find another job. I say shut up and put up. These kinds of things really irk me. And of course they are going to win their case! The minority seem to always win. I'm really sorry if I offend anyone in my posting, but there are reasons for rules and safety is nothing to be taken lightly.
    First off, you should not feel bad if you have offended anyone. Second, if he wants to wear his beard,fine, but if his seal is compromised, and he gets hurt, oh well. Just another idiot using religion as a crutch for his own agendas. Obviously, he has never visited a burn center.

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    Permanently Removed CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Dont want to play by the rules? Then quit, resign and go home!

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    If they can't get a seal they can use cheaters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CALFFBOU View Post
    Dont want to play by the rules? Then quit, resign and go home!
    EXACTLY!!!!


    Can't stand the way people can't take responsibility for their actions and the way employers coddle to those people. The world has become way too politically correct.

    With this thinking........the fire service could hire Amish people but you can promote them to driver because that's against their religion! But you can't exclude them from going for it if they want to.

    WTF???? Don't want to hurt anyone's feelings!!!
    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona, WI

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    The Navy has fought this issue for years and it has flip-flopped about every 5 because of it. The last time beards became a safety issue in the Navy was when we delployed for OP APOLLO/ENDURING FREEDOM in fall 2001. ALL naval personnel were REQUIRED to shave the beard prior to entering into the Operations Area, just outside the Straits of Hormuz. They all knew that in advance and were either landed prior to sailing or shaved it off.

    Reason for removing the beard? Chemical/biological (and firefighting) safety hazards, since we were sailing into a potentially extreme hazard area, thanks to Mr bin Laden.

    The whole thing is really quite simple: Can you or can you NOT get a full and complete seal during a fit test?

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    If they can't get a seal they can use cheaters.
    Bravo Len!!

    Although I personally don't support their position, I don't see much difference between this and those posters in other threads that believe that the use of PPE is their own choice and should not be dictated by safety sallies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JHR1985 View Post
    damn heebs....

    its pretty easy....

    tell them no... and put them in prevention, EMS headquarters,or so and so.
    You sir have crossed the line you Anti-Semite. I too may not be the most ideal Jew, but I identify as one. I too have tattoos and shave my head. I wear a Chai and am proud to say that I am a Jew. I do not have a beard, that is my choice. I work in a profession that says that I cannot have one, I chose that. These guys are medics, and Chasin has had his beard for two decades. This I have to agree with, is BS. If this has never been the policy, and now they want it, grandfather these guys and make them sign a waiver. That is pretty much how most things are done these days. A safety issue? Of course. It has been for the last 20 years also. But, they never saw fit to enforce it until now. If you want to go raise your hand and yell obscenities, then go to a rally and wear you sheet and hide behind it.
    Jason Brooks
    IAFF Local 2388
    IACOJ

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    MembersZone Subscriber JHR1985's Avatar
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    if you have seen any of my other posts, you would note that I use sarcasm non-stop.

    I'm a good part Jewish...

    So, IF your offended by me making fun of MYSELF and others, well too bad.
    Last edited by JHR1985; 09-21-2008 at 09:06 PM.
    The Box. You opened it. We Came...

    "You'll take my life but I'll take your's too. You'll fire musket but I'll run you through. So when your waiting for the next attack, you'll better understand there's no turn back."

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