I am a member of a small volunteer Fire/EMS Department and we run mutual aid with both career and volunteer departments. We do our best in our area to maintain professional images through training, dress, equipment, maintenance and attitude. I have recently attended training on regional and state levels and wonder about some of the things I see when it comes to first impressions. I have only been in the fire service for a few years but I would like to know......What is the deal with the T-shirts (I have seen this with volly and career guys)?
Do not get me wrong, most departments work their tails off to maintain a professional appearance but I see folks who get out of their half-million dollar engines, tell me about all of the nice equipment they have and 6 of their guys are wearing t-shirts that say, "we fight what you fear", "slaying the dragon" or have a half naked woman on them with "find em hot and leave 'em wet."
I am not saying you need to wear your class A uniform but a polo or Class B or C uniform during large training events would go a long way towards a first impression. Is this something that is commonplace? I guess I am just perplexed. Thanks.
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Thread: Professional Dress
01-17-2009, 01:28 PM #1
- Join Date
- Oct 2008
Last edited by FFEMT2159; 01-18-2009 at 09:19 AM.
01-17-2009, 02:34 PM #2
You are asking the same questions I have had for years. To me there is a place and time for everything. If you are out having a beer at the local watering hole, I don't think the "find 'em hot and leave 'em wet" t-shirts all that offensive. But I do have a problem when you are wearing a "XYZ Fire Department" t-shirt that looked "official". On the same note, I don't think it says a lot for your department when you show up at a parade or training wearing the "novelty" t-shirts.
While some communities will support us no matter what we wear, we owe it to all of our brothers and sisters in the fire service to show proper respect when we are representing our own departments. A member sitting in a bar with a department t-shirt may make some civilians wonder if your department permits you to consume alcohol while on-duty... since the shirt could be considered a "uniform". They're a lot of departments out there that struggle to get every penny they can to operate. The last thing they need is for a supporter to get the idea that firefighters are all just in it for the glory and the beer.
As for the novelty shirts, I have two pet peeves. The first is the group that shows up at a fire service function wearing t-shirts with vulgar or humurous slogans. Who are you trying to impress with these? While they may be cute, do you really think the other firefighters in the room who are wearing their uniform shirts with pride want to look like you?
The other pet peeve I have is the desire of some to have a "Big City" t-shrt on at these functions. Come on now, we all know you are not a member of FDNY, so why look like a "wanna-be" by wearing one. I think they are OK when you are having a work night or out shopping with your spouse, since they show support for these departments (often they sell these for their fund raising efforts), but it borders on disrespect to wear one in a bar or at a function where you should be recognized as being a member of YOUR department.
Ok.. you asked.. that is my humble opinion... now we'll see the fur fly!
Last edited by MetalMedic; 01-18-2009 at 05:53 PM.Richard Nester
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
"People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter
01-18-2009, 09:11 AM #3"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
01-18-2009, 10:09 AM #4
- Join Date
- May 2008
- Stamford, CT
01-18-2009, 01:01 PM #5
ffemt, I posted a ref on this on the EMSResponders website.
01-18-2009, 05:55 PM #6
01-20-2009, 10:26 AM #7
- Join Date
- Dec 2007
I have to agree with Metalmedic on this one. Professional dress says so much for a department of any size, but it's that much more important in a small town. Personally, in our department, we have a dress code which we ask our members to adhere to. This involves the above mentioned items (no bar visits in dept. issued uniforms etc.) and also promotes a professional dress code for trainings, meetings, and PR events. It's amazing to see how far a simple standardized uniform can take a volunteer department. A couple of uniform items we try to promote at our department are:
-No alcohol or sexual references on clothing (to include helmet stickers and calendars/pictures in lockers)
-No sleeveless/weightlifting shirts on calls (we ask our members to keep a duty shirt or a plain white t-shirt in their locker in case of a call)
-Practical training days we ask our members to wear black boots, black belt, blue BDUs and their dept t-shirt
-Classroom training, PR events, and other activities we ask our members to wear the above except to utilize a dept issued polo shirt
-Finally, we ask our members to wear Class A uniforms for special events
We have found the by asking our guys what works for them, we have much better compliance with our uniform policies.
01-20-2009, 01:22 PM #8
- Join Date
- Aug 2006
- mountain view, AR
But many of the small vol dept's have no uniform at all. While we get the t-shirts with the dept logo on them, we have NO uniform at all. We wear what people were wearing when we were paged. And around here, people are use to the guy's at fire's and accident scenes in all manor of dress. They are just glad that we show up.
We are just trying to stop them from showing up at fire's in shorts,sandals, and "OH forgot the turnouts".
01-20-2009, 03:54 PM #9
01-20-2009, 04:40 PM #10The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
01-21-2009, 12:38 AM #11
- Join Date
- Jan 2007
We require dept issue T-shirts for all special events.We normally but new t-shirts for special events. Training most show up in department t shirts of some some sort and polished wildland boots. Chief is the only one who has a badge and uniform(purchased out of his own pocket). It seems to a lead by example and the crew will follow.
What I like in on mutuial aid when the 250K engine shows up with there guys in uniforms with gold badges and they can't run the pump (2 times) and once no water in the tank.
01-21-2009, 11:10 AM #12
While professional actions go a long way, a professional image can do wonders as well.
My Dept. (Volly) issues both duty and "Class A" dress uniforms. Dept. T-shirts come out of our own pockets, unless the association is feeling generous.
For meeting/training/truck checks, their is not a dress code, however the practice is Dept. T-shirts with clean jeans (appropriate shorts in the summer are acceptable) or work pants.
Most public events, inspections, open houses, public awareness/extinguisher training, probie testing/interviews, parades involving apparatus only, and training outside the Dept., dress is our duty(station) uniform.
Any parades involving marching, awards banquets, ceremony of any sort, or any function or event that formal type wear is or may be appropriate, we wear our dress uniform.
01-25-2009, 01:32 PM #13
- Join Date
- Dec 2008
- Great State of Texas
I know this is going to sound really weird and it's based on a speaker from a conference I went to...
"Your citizens are paying customers and they deserve professional and well trained responders regardless of your profession." This was geared directly toward the volunteer fire service.
Do I think this is a 100% true statement... no. But the spirit of the statement is what I'm getting at.
You need to be professional regardless of the situation. If you're mowing the yard and a tone drops, take a second to put on that department t-shirt. Wear your equipment and wear it correctly. The funny shirts are for kicking back and the duty shirts are for working... don't confuse the two.
A great compliment (in my opinion) is that Joe Citizen doesn't know (or care) if your a professional or a volunteer, just that you're there and hopefully know what your doing. A professional appearence goes a long way in on that initial impression where Joe Citizen is looking for someone to take control and fix the problem.
It's all about respecting the position your in when that engine rolls up. You want some podunk yahoo wearing an off color shirt or a "professional" clearly identifying themselves as a first responder professional asking you important questions/giving orders/fixing the problem.
Be safe, R2
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