Thread: Facial Hair?

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    Default Facial Hair?

    First off let me say hello. I am currently getting my fire science BS and one thing was on my mind that I never knew the anwser. What are the rules of Facial Hair for being a Firefighter? I have a Goatee... Hopefully when I become a Firefighter I won't have to shave it. Is it Mustasche only? Thanks. FFPYRO

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    We have a strict policy. No facial hair other than mustaches. Anything else will compromise the integrity of the seal on the mask. If this isn't found out the hard way, chances are you will never pass a scba mask fit test.

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    I had that happen the other day....Got a call..Hadn't shaved in a day or two...Went to mask up and couldn't get a seal...
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

    Ryan

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    It would depend on the department. My department allows only moustaches. I was in DC this past summer and was quite surprised to see the number of firefighters with beards. I guess if you can get a seal it wouldn't matter.

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    OSHA and NFPA prohibit any facial hair that interferes with the sealing surface (whether you can make it seal or not). Most departments (career departments, anyway) won't allow it. Volunteer departments also frown on it, but it's a little harder to enforce. Bottom line is, no, you shouldn't have facial hair if you're going to wear SCBA. I can't where I work. Also, think about this....If you ever develop a job-related respiratory disease, and you have a demonstrated history of wearing your SCBA with facial hair (whether your department allowed it or not), you may be denied benefits, based on the fact that you ignored established guidelines for SCBA usage. Just something to think about.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
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    First of all, welcome to Firehouse forums. The subject of your post has been raised here from time to time and I think you will find the information you seek by using the "search" feature on the menu to the left of this forum. This will allow you to benefit from the many "pearls of wisdom" previously posted on this topic.

    Bottom line answer to your question: OSHA prohibits facial hair where the mask seals to the face, but some departments couldn't care less about OSHA regulations.

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    Originally posted by cfdeng3
    I was in DC this past summer and was quite surprised to see the number of firefighters with beards.
    IIRC, DC firefighters are permitted to wear beards as a result of a lawsuit filed by an employee about having a beard for religious reasons.

    most department don't allow beards. mustaches are ok, as long as they don't compromise the integrity of the seal. goatees are iffy. most department's don't allow them, but i know several firefighters than can get seals with them.
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    Most likely you are going to have to shave it off. I have heard of guys having a mask that seals around the Adam's Apple, however I am not sure how true this is being that I have never personally seen this. I have also heard of guys using Vaseline, but I don't see any reason in starting unnecessary rumors. Most places will make you shave it off, plus it is just easier and safer that way.
    Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.

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    We have a few firefighters with neatly trimmed goatees.

    We do a fit test for SCBA every year, if they pass the fit test w/ the goatee, they can keep it.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 10-27-2004 at 12:44 PM.
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    in our department , there is a regulation saying no beards.Sideburns only to the bottom of your earlobe , moustaches only to the corners of your mouth.There currently is a member with a full beard.He has a dermatological problem with shaving and therefore is detailed to administration.

    Aren't most SCBA's positive pressure?blows air out around leak, not in.

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    Originally posted by bptff834
    Aren't most SCBA's positive pressure?blows air out around leak, not in.
    While this is true, state and Federal OSHA respiratory protection standards still require the user to be able to obtain a firm seal and not have any facial hair that interferes with the sealing surface.

    From a practical standpoint, even though the positive pressure would most likely prevent contaminants from entering the mask, it would also deplete your air supply much more rapidly. I remember one drill where we were in full SCBAs and I somehow didn't get a good seal...I hit the low air alarm much more quickly that I normally do.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

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    For those operating in Australia, AS1715 specifies the limits of facial hair.

    Aren't most SCBA's positive pressure?blows air out around leak, not in.
    Whilst this is true, it is important to do both a positive and a negative pressure test when donning a set.

    The positive pressure, as you mentioned will force air out.

    The negative pressure test is done in case something goes wrong (ie: if you hyperventilate, you can change the pressure difference in your face piece and draw air in from the outside), you still get a seal.
    Luke

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    For us it is no hair past the corners of your mouth, no goatees, beards etc ..........and thats on top the OSHA/NFPA.
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    Default Aren't most SCBA's positive pressure?blows air out around leak, not in.

    YA, Thats what i wanna do. Waste all my air in a burning building just to be a hard *** about a fashion statement. Its worth it

    Dont take a chance shave the facial hair

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    Default Welcome, but....

    FFPyro,
    May I also welcome you to the firehouse.com discussion boards, however I have some suggestions for you.

    ONE; Change your name. If you continue to use that name George Wendt and I will be coming after you.

    TWO; May I also suggest that you use the search feature in the future, since this was at least once previously been an item of discussion.

    THREE; From the OSHA.gov site for respiratory protection standard;

    Facepiece seal protection.
    1910.134(g)(1)(i)
    The employer shall not permit respirators with tight-fitting facepieces to be worn by employees who have:
    1910.134(g)(1)(i)(A)
    Facial hair that comes between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face or that interferes with valve function; or
    1910.134(g)(1)(i)(B)
    Any condition that interferes with the face-to-facepiece seal or valve function.
    1910.134(g)(1)(ii)
    If an employee wears corrective glasses or goggles or other personal protective equipment, the employer shall ensure that such equipment is worn in a manner that does not interfere with the seal of the facepiece to the face of the user.

    And from the New Jersey Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health Program;


    What Happens When An Employee Has Excessive Facial Hair While Wearing A Respirator?

    If a PEOSH inspection is conducted and an employee with facial hair that lies along the sealing area of a respirator is observed wearing a negative or positive pressure respirator that requires a facepiece-to-face seal, the employer will be in violation. The employer may receive an order to comply which will list the violation along with the abatement date. On or before that abatement date, the employer must abate all violations listed in the order to comply.

    Since the employer (not the employee) is required to comply with the facial hair provision of these standards, the facial hair requirement has become a labor-management issue. The United States Supreme Court has made several rulings in favor of the facial hair prohibition over the individual rights of the employee to have facial hair.


    Of course there are some states like my own who do not have such a program. However, in non-OSHA states the federal respiratory standards apply either through the Federal OSHA mandates or through the EPA respiratory standards, for emergency response to a hazardous materials incident. In other words, facial hair and any other condition that interferes with the proper face seal of the facepiece is not allowed.

    There is much more to the standard than just what I provided. You can go to their site and look at it. The respiratory standard is 1910.134. It is quite extensive and many departments, particularly volunteer departments are not compliant.

    Also the only way to tell if you are capable of getting a seal with the appropriate mask, including one sized to your face, is through either a quantitative or qualitative fit test. Simply putting on the mask and then holding your hand over the inlet opening of the mask is not and does not meet the standard for either of the above listed fit tests.

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    The career firefighters in my department are supposed to be clean-shaven. Facial hair should be limited to a moustache only. For the volunteer division, however... Anything goes. One of our most dedicated volunteers has a full beard and has always claimed that it did not interfere with him getting a good seal. Yesterday, he proved he had no problems when he passed fit testing with his full beard.

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    Wow! you're in school and you still have the goatee!

    When I started, The first day I walked in to class the teacher made an example of me and showed the class how not to come to school. He pointed to my goatee and plainly said if this is not off your face by the next class, don't bother showing up.

    That was a LONG time ago and I can tell you it must have had some effect on me because I've been a mustache-only guy ever since.

    Seriously, like everyone said, it doesn't make sense to have it. Right or wrong, religous reasons or not, you owe it to yourself to be as safe as possible and when something like this can come in the way of a good seal on your scba it needs to go.

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    Gonzo, wrong.

    The fit test requirements are independent of the use requirements, where the hair requirements reside. A sucessful fit test does not get you out of the hair requirements, summarized in English below from OSHA's web site:

    It does not matter if hair is allowed to grow on other areas of the face, if it does not protrude under the respirator seal, or extend far enough to interfere with the device's function (such as the interference with valve function). Accordingly, short mustaches, sideburns and small goatees that are trimmed so that no hair underlies the seal of the respirator present no hazard and do not violate [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(1)(i)]. In general, however, beards present serious problems of acceptability because their texture and density vary daily, there is no consistency to respirator fit, and there is higher leakage.

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    Default more info

    from the preamble to the OSHA Respiratory Standard:

    OSHA does not find this study a persuasive basis for changing its position on facial hair. The fact that an acceptable protection factor can be obtained for a bearded respirator wearer in a workplace protection factor study does not mean that the worker can achieve the same protection level each time the respirator is used. First, protection factor studies are designed to minimize program defects and are often conducted under very tight supervision, which is generally not typical of conditions in real workplaces. Second, beards grow and change daily, resulting in variability of protection from one day to the next.

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    On the days I work I keep my face clean shaven but on my days off (like this weekend when I'm off Fri, Sat and Sunday) I usually let my face grow out. If I respond as a vollie to a call the little bit of stubble that I get from just 2, 3 at the most, days of growth is usually not enough to interfere with getting a seal. While I keep my face shaven others in my combo department sometimes have goatees when working. Just this month I worked 2 paid shifts with a partimmer who had a goatee. I guess it depends on who you are and where you work.

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    posted by Grit76
    Gonzo, wrong.
    I don't set Department policy... I am just another Captain on an Engine company.
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    Most of us would be up in arms if our employers violated OSHA standards affecting our safety. Why do we then do it to ourselves? We've all taken the fit test and I think it's pretty obvious that it just doesn't compare to fighting a fire. Having to stay clean shaven is a small price to pay for being able to do this job.

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    Default Shave it off!

    If you're testing: Beards are out; mustaches are a gray area. When in doubt, shave it off. Don’t wear cell phones, pagers or any other electronic leases.

    When my son was trying to become a firefighter I begged him to shave off his mustache. He said Dad this took me 26-years to grow and I'm not going to shave it off. He got hired. He got married and his wife made him shave it off. Go figure.

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    On my department you cannot have any facial hair below your upper lip and no more then a days growth. If you show up to work "scruffy" the deputy will make you shave asap.

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