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Thread: Beards, training, and my liability as a training officer

  1. #41
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    One department down, and one more to go. I can only hope it goes as well there too!!
    “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” Leo F. Buscaglia

    This place gets weirder and weirder every day...


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    Forum Member CdnFD24's Avatar
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    POC department I'm on has policy regarding beards. I do find that it is difficult to enforce due to the nature of the department operations.

    All members are paged when a call comes in. An individual on days off may have some facial hair and respond when the pager sounds. No time to shave. It is not possible to predict when these calls will come in.

    Some may have opinion that the fire department has no grounds to enforce firefighters to be clean shaven at all times, unless they are on payroll 24/7.

    I realize there is some policy that applies outside the department such as conduct and information disclosure/discretion, etc. However, asking someone to conduct an action which would require some of their personal time when they might otherwise not do such action could be perceived as beyond reasonable requirement.

    This is more easily enforced on career department as one would work shift and come into work prepared.
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  3. #43
    Forum Member conrad427's Avatar
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    Hopefully some or all of them would realize that you being a hard A%@ might help keep them safe.

  4. #44
    Forum Member bcjack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdnFD24 View Post
    POC department I'm on has policy regarding beards. I do find that it is difficult to enforce due to the nature of the department operations.

    All members are paged when a call comes in. An individual on days off may have some facial hair and respond when the pager sounds. No time to shave. It is not possible to predict when these calls will come in.

    Some may have opinion that the fire department has no grounds to enforce firefighters to be clean shaven at all times, unless they are on payroll 24/7.

    I realize there is some policy that applies outside the department such as conduct and information disclosure/discretion, etc. However, asking someone to conduct an action which would require some of their personal time when they might otherwise not do such action could be perceived as beyond reasonable requirement.

    This is more easily enforced on career department as one would work shift and come into work prepared.
    Those that choose not to be clean shaven can just not respond. THEY make the choice to shave and respond (and get paid) or not shave and stay away (and NOT get paid).
    everyonegoeshome.com

  5. #45
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdnFD24 View Post
    Some may have opinion that the fire department has no grounds to enforce firefighters to be clean shaven at all times, unless they are on payroll 24/7.
    I dont know how things work in the great white north but here in many of the States, volunteers are bound by either Federal and/or State-level OSHA rules and must abide by 29CFR1910.134 which mandates clean-shaven faces any time when one wears an SCBA. In the Commonwealth of Pa- VFD's are required to have and maintain a written respiratory protection policy to cover their volunteers- who are legally defined as "employees" even though they receive zero compensation. They are defined as employees due to the requirement that the municipality for which they are volunteering in must provide them with workman's compensation insurance.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  6. #46
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdnFD24 View Post
    POC department I'm on has policy regarding beards. I do find that it is difficult to enforce due to the nature of the department operations.

    All members are paged when a call comes in. An individual on days off may have some facial hair and respond when the pager sounds. No time to shave. It is not possible to predict when these calls will come in.

    Some may have opinion that the fire department has no grounds to enforce firefighters to be clean shaven at all times, unless they are on payroll 24/7.

    I realize there is some policy that applies outside the department such as conduct and information disclosure/discretion, etc. However, asking someone to conduct an action which would require some of their personal time when they might otherwise not do such action could be perceived as beyond reasonable requirement.

    This is more easily enforced on career department as one would work shift and come into work prepared.
    if you choose to enforce it it is not difficult at all. You make it clear that if you are not clean shave you don't put on an SCBA. PERIOD, no exceptions. That is what my one POC FD is going to make clear at the next membership meeting.

    The facts are clear, at least in the United States that NO regulatory agency allows the use of SCBA when facial hair comes between the seal of the mask and the skin. My State speciafically says in the Administrative Code regarding Fire Department Safety and Health that wearing an SCBA facepiece with facial hair that comes between the seal of the facepiece and the skin is prohibited.

    I am not willing to risk my family's financial future by violating such obviously clear regulations, standards, and Adminstrative Code.
    “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” Leo F. Buscaglia

    This place gets weirder and weirder every day...

  7. #47
    Forum Member conrad427's Avatar
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    I had chin wiskers when I first joined the dept. When I found out that the county did not cover us under workers comp insurance, the wiskers came off. Well, that and a lot of good points for being clean shaven by guys on a near by combination dept. Man I wish i could grow a decent moustache.

  8. #48
    Forum Member Wolfn's Avatar
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    I'm in a difficult situation because I'm Muslim and as a Muslim I'm supposed to grow a beard.
    Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.

  9. #49
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfn View Post
    I'm in a difficult situation because I'm Muslim and as a Muslim I'm supposed to grow a beard.
    I don't mean to be disrespectful to your religious beliefs but if you want to be a firefighter isn't doing all you can do to protect yourself, including not having hair inbetween the seal of the mask and the skin on your face, important?
    “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” Leo F. Buscaglia

    This place gets weirder and weirder every day...

  10. #50
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfn View Post
    I'm in a difficult situation because I'm Muslim and as a Muslim I'm supposed to grow a beard.
    No disrespect intended but pick one: firefighting or your religion. One or the other. Not both. If you have a beard, I cant work with you- I'm not going to knowing place myself in a situation where my life could depend on you and your perceived ability to maintain a seal.
    SPFDRum likes this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfn View Post
    I'm in a difficult situation because I'm Muslim and as a Muslim I'm supposed to grow a beard.
    We have several guys on our department that are Muslim and they are clean shaven. The one that I know personally was a Marine prior to the FD so he has never had a beard. I had asked before one night at the firehouse and he said that he had spoken to his religous leader (no offense but i do not know what the Muslim faith calls them), The religous leader guided him in this problem. Check with them.

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    Fyredup- Glad to hear your problem was resolved. I misunderstood your depiction of your response on how you were going to handle the conversation with the chief. I was under the impression that you were going to issue him an ultimatum to him and i did not want to see that blow up in your face. As for my sugestion on training. I was merely trying to open your mind to some possible alternatives to how you could limit your liablity as the training officer, if you were so inclined. As well as open your mind as to some of the posible reprocustions of you not being the training officer any longer. After all an instructor with 30 plus years in the fire service is hard to come by. I do not know you or your commitment to the department so i have no clue as to how much you have invested in it. Clearly you had your mind made up from the get go and was not willing to compromise with the Chief. If you look at the standard it states on Emergency Incidents and in Hazardous environments. Training in the apparatus bay does not meet that critria. Thus limiting you liablity as the training officer. The liablity IMO would then be on the department and the chief in regards to fire ground operations. Obviously that would not be the best option.

    No idea is idioic, they all might not work in the situation however they can sometime spark other ideas that will. i was under the impression that you were brainstorming on possible alternatives.

  13. #53
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFD21C View Post
    Fyredup- Glad to hear your problem was resolved. I misunderstood your depiction of your response on how you were going to handle the conversation with the chief. I was under the impression that you were going to issue him an ultimatum to him and i did not want to see that blow up in your face. As for my sugestion on training. I was merely trying to open your mind to some possible alternatives to how you could limit your liablity as the training officer, if you were so inclined. As well as open your mind as to some of the posible reprocustions of you not being the training officer any longer. After all an instructor with 30 plus years in the fire service is hard to come by. I do not know you or your commitment to the department so i have no clue as to how much you have invested in it. Clearly you had your mind made up from the get go and was not willing to compromise with the Chief. If you look at the standard it states on Emergency Incidents and in Hazardous environments. Training in the apparatus bay does not meet that critria. Thus limiting you liablity as the training officer. The liablity IMO would then be on the department and the chief in regards to fire ground operations. Obviously that would not be the best option.

    No idea is idioic, they all might not work in the situation however they can sometime spark other ideas that will. i was under the impression that you were brainstorming on possible alternatives.
    Look, I simply cannot understand how you believe there is any benefit at all, and no liability, in training people to use an SCBA when they simply would not be allowed to use it in an emergency situation. To me training someone is implied consent to do what you tarined them to do.

    I would not tell you not to do that if you thought it was right. I will NOT do it because I believe it is wrong and opens me AND the department AND its officers up for possible liability.
    “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” Leo F. Buscaglia

    This place gets weirder and weirder every day...

  14. #54
    Forum Member Wolfn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    I don't mean to be disrespectful to your religious beliefs but if you want to be a firefighter isn't doing all you can do to protect yourself, including not having hair inbetween the seal of the mask and the skin on your face, important?

    Well, I suppose saving lives is more important than growing hair on my face. I have a sikh friend who had to shave his hair and beard when he went into the Army.

    I guess it shouldn't be a problem.
    Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.

  15. #55
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfn View Post
    Well, I suppose saving lives is more important than growing hair on my face. I have a sikh friend who had to shave his hair and beard when he went into the Army.

    I guess it shouldn't be a problem.
    Believe me I am not being flippant here but here are a couple of suggestions.

    1) Talk to your spiritual leader and explain that rules, regulations and standards do not allow you to have facial hair that interferes with the seal of the mask. Seek his advice.
    2) How about a "soul Patch?" You know, the little patch of hair under the lower lip that doesn't extend to the jaw line? It seems to me that would meet the intent of facial hair without putting you in peril of not getting a goo seal.

    Again believe me I am not making light of your religion, just trying to find a way to keep you safe AND meet your spiritual needs at the same time.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 03-21-2013 at 02:50 PM.
    “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” Leo F. Buscaglia

    This place gets weirder and weirder every day...

  16. #56
    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    It's the law here... no hair between your face and the seal.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

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  17. #57
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Sorry to be so long getting here, it's a long run from the East Coast......... Maryland also subscribes to the standards that are outlined in the Fed OSHA documents...... I haven't had to do anything more difficult than reminding a member that had just returned from a Vacation that he needed to shave prior to responding on any alarm. No problem there....... In this case, I'm glad everything worked out OK, and I have a hunch that when the word starts getting out, there will be more voluntary compliance as a result of your taking a stand for safety........
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  18. #58
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Sorry to be so long getting here, it's a long run from the East Coast......... Maryland also subscribes to the standards that are outlined in the Fed OSHA documents...... I haven't had to do anything more difficult than reminding a member that had just returned from a Vacation that he needed to shave prior to responding on any alarm. No problem there....... In this case, I'm glad everything worked out OK, and I have a hunch that when the word starts getting out, there will be more voluntary compliance as a result of your taking a stand for safety........
    I can imagine it will go 2 ways. Guys that want to go in will shave, and guys that want to be ****ed off about it won't. Those that won't will be excluded from any and all SCBA usage in training and at incidents.
    “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” Leo F. Buscaglia

    This place gets weirder and weirder every day...

  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    I can imagine it will go 2 ways. Guys that want to go in will shave, and guys that want to be ****ed off about it won't. Those that won't will be excluded from any and all SCBA usage in training and at incidents.
    I glad you stood your ground with this issue. At the simplest level, this scenario is about knowing and abiding by the rules. Whether you like the rule or not, you must comply with it if you want to participate. If someone doesn't like the rule, then they need to put forth effort to change it. Sadly, 90% of the people in the world today merely show up (if they even do that) and will not put forth an ounce of effort to improve anything. They'll be more than willing to complain but won't lift a finger to change something (even if they are passionate about it). In this case, I doubt anyone with a beard will put forth the effort to do the research, contact PPE and SCBA manufacturers, and etc.

    In your role as a Training Officer, you assume a significant liability, and more importantly, a responsibility, to ensure your people not only meet whatever rules, regulations, guidelines, and etc. are out there, but also that they know enough to operate with maximum efficiency and effectiveness at an emergency scene. If someone refuses to comply with the rules, then you, as a Training Officer, already have the deck stacked against you.

    Stand your ground and be consistent. If "they" don't like it, encourage them to find someone who is willing to assume the risk and responsibility.

    Good luck.
    DFW



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    Forum Member conrad427's Avatar
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    Honest to God, after reading through this thread for a while, I decided to shave off my chin whiskers. I hate it because it did a good job of hiding my second chin, but alas not my third chin. Speaking of second chins, our safety/training officer is worried about the liability of obese firefighters, guys that cant even get into the scba harness. Does he or the dept. have any liability when it comes to "morbidly obese" firefighters staying on the dept?

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