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

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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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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    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.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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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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    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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    Does your department have medical exams and /or physical fitness requirements?

    I'm guessing no, as that seems to be almost as hot a topic as shaving and background investigations.

    There are medical standards which if used would dismiss most liability assuming these out of shape firefighters were passing the standards. I am not aware of any departments being held liable for allowing grossly unfit firefighters onto the fire ground, but there is always a first time.

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    We have started a health and wellness program. It all starts with a free exam by the county health dept. It measures BMI and blood pressure. If found to be stage 1 or 2 hypertensive the officers will pay for a complete checkup for the firefighter. The reason for that is because the overweight firefighters did not want to have to pay for the checkup, and possibly save there own life. If hypertensive, the firefighter will be taken off the active duty roster until steps are taken to mitigate the problem and the member obtains a pass from the doctor.

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    Well, Monday night I made the presentation to the entire FD at monthly meeting. I had NFPA 1500, SPS330, and OSHA 1910.134 and handed out copies to everyone of the relevant sections of each. I stated the FDs new policy regarding beards and how it related to training and fire response. I only got one kind of evil stare from a member with a beard, lots of questions about how long the facial hair could be, but mostly acceptance of this is how it is.

    I still have to address it with my other volly FD because of work I haven't been able to make a meeting yet. I'll let you know how that goes.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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    Well, the officer's meeting with my other volly FD occurred last night. I got 100% support for enforcing this standard and as my son, LT Chenzo pointed out it was already in our by-laws manual so all we had to do was say no more, we are enforcing state and national standards regarding facial hair.

    It went well in the general membership meeting, no one argued, one guy asked how long his mustache could be and that was that.

    I don't know why I was so worried...
    Last edited by FyredUp; 05-21-2013 at 05:15 PM.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    It went well in the general membership meeting, no one argued, one guy asked how long his mustache could be and that was that.

    I don't know why I was so worried...
    "Worry is interest paid on a debt that never comes due."

    But worry can also spur you to preparation, which in your case it obviously did. So it paid off.
    bcjack likes this.
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