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View Full Version : Police, fire fighters, and moustaches


born too late
12-06-2006, 09:31 PM
Kind of a poll -

Are police and fire/ems personnel more likely to wear moustaches? Can any police/fire dopers here witness?

It occurred to me lately that on TV and in movies, these folks are often sporting the upper lip facial hair. I've noticed police and fire fighters in my area tend to have moustaches too - is this common in other areas?

.Tyr.
12-06-2006, 10:35 PM
In my experience police departments tend to impose a dress code on their police officers that includes no facial hair except a mustache. Given this I would suppose that many people that would otherwise grow a full beard or some other type of facial hair opt for a mustache rather than being clean shaven.

Zabali_Clawbane
12-06-2006, 10:42 PM
I am not sure, but I would think firemen and such would not wear facial hair so they can have a good seal with their breathing equipment? :confused:

silenus
12-06-2006, 10:43 PM
They are common because: 1) The various departments usualy have a very strict hair-length requirement, 2) the departments also forbid any facial hair that would interfere with a resperator mask, and 3) a mustache is macho.

bouv
12-06-2006, 10:54 PM
I am not sure, but I would think firemen and such would not wear facial hair so they can have a good seal with their breathing equipment? :confused:

That's a big reason, yes. Anything more than a small goatee (and even then...) and you risk losing the seal.

drachillix
12-06-2006, 11:21 PM
That's a big reason, yes. Anything more than a small goatee (and even then...) and you risk losing the seal.

SCBA are positive pressure inside the mask so there is always some leakage. Excessive facial hair would also be an issue with getting caught in tools or toasted off being in close proximity to flames. Long hair has a similar problem. Short hair is easily covered by the shroud on your helmet, excess is just waiting to be a fuse leading to your head.

You only go into a firefight with the shroud up once, your ears will take care of the reminders after that.

drachillix
12-06-2006, 11:23 PM
In my experience police departments tend to impose a dress code on their police officers that includes no facial hair except a mustache. Given this I would suppose that many people that would otherwise grow a full beard or some other type of facial hair opt for a mustache rather than being clean shaven.

Long hair or beards of any significant length are also dangerous in the hand to hand fighting situations cops find themselves in quite often.

Max Torque
12-07-2006, 12:01 AM
I work with cops a lot, and here's another issue that factors into things: policemen need to have an authoritative bearing, and many of the new academy graduates are pretty young and baby-faced. On the street, they need to be taken seriously and not blown off as a kid in a uniform. As a result, they'll often grow a mustache to look older and more imposing. Some just kinda keep it when they get older, or regrow one periodically.

madmonk28
12-07-2006, 01:56 AM
Years ago, I was a volunteer fireman and a big old mustache was almost a requirement with the ticks (volunteers) and the paid firefighters. Beards were out because of the seal issue mentioned, but I had a cheesy 70s pornstar looking mustache and so did most of my friends.

born too late
12-07-2006, 07:20 AM
That's some good insight. I suspected it might have something to do with tradition, but it seems there's practical reasons as well. Thanks!

Auntbeast
12-07-2006, 07:39 AM
but I had a cheesy 70s pornstar looking mustache and so did most of my friends.


Do you know that you actually wrote that where people could see it? :)

Culturally speaking, there is a validity to "everyone else is doing it." It may just persist in that arena because it is one where personal style is limited, longevity of the group members is common and it is a fairly closed society. Think of it like the Amish or any other culturally separate group.

Then again, maybe they like looking like the guy from the Village People.

born too late
12-07-2006, 07:45 AM
By the way, I found this old thread (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?t=166651&highlight=police+mustache) .

(I did a search last night before I started this thread, but I spelled mustache with an 'o' and got no results)

St. Urho
12-07-2006, 08:16 AM
I am not sure, but I would think firemen and such would not wear facial hair so they can have a good seal with their breathing equipment? :confused:

This is essentially correct. It's prohibited by OSHA, as firefighters have to take a fit test, to ensure their SCBA masks form a tight seal. A moustache, however, won't affect the seal, so it's allowed.

However, when a respirator must be worn to protect employees from airborne contaminants, it has to fit correctly, and this will require the wearer's face to be clean-shaven where the respirator seals against it.

The use of a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), such as the Scott Air Pac, is not acceptable for bearded employees under emergency conditions.

Both from here (http://osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=19237)

KCB615
12-07-2006, 09:09 AM
I'm in total agreement with beards compromising the seal of an SCBA facepiece. I've had 2-day stubble and not passed an annual fit-test (I wanted to see if it really was true). I can only imagine what a beard would do to that seal.

As for moustaches, I have no idea why many firefighters have them. I refuse to grow one (too itchy, just doesn't feel right), and catch a boat load of grief from the firefighters on my shift, all of whom have them. I've asked why they have them, and they don't know. I suspect its a macho thing, "we're tough firemens and thus require moustaches."

I just like to go against the trend.

brewha
12-07-2006, 09:38 AM
Police officers are required to have moustaches.

cite (http://imdb.com/title/tt0247745/posters)

MrDibble
12-07-2006, 10:17 AM
a mustache is macho.


Then again, maybe they like looking like the guy from the Village People.


"Macho, macho man..."

gonzomax
12-07-2006, 10:35 AM
It is so common that SNL did a skit on it. After swearing in the new cops they said heres your gun, heres your uniform, heres your mace, heres your mustache.They handed these item to them.

VunderBob
12-07-2006, 11:07 AM
I'm a vol firefighter now. About 1/3 of my department (including me) has a beard of some type, all of them are short hair length. Since we're all rednecks, the head hair tends to be short or non-existent.

Unless someone looks like Jerry Garcia or a member of ZZ Top, I don't think there'd be much of a hair problem given our smoke hoods and SCBA masks.

MrSquishy
12-07-2006, 01:21 PM
By the way, I found this old thread (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?t=166651&highlight=police+mustache) .

(I did a search last night before I started this thread, but I spelled mustache with an 'o' and got no results)Moustache, or mustacheo? :-{)

St. Urho
12-07-2006, 01:25 PM
VunderBob are you getting annual fit tests? Those are tough to pass with any facial hair- like KCB615 said.

VunderBob
12-07-2006, 02:13 PM
VunderBob are you getting annual fit tests? Those are tough to pass with any facial hair- like KCB615 said.

I personally haven't done one since I grew the beard, but once again, I don't think it will be a problem. All of the beards in the department are under an inch long.

If it is, 5 minutes with a razor, and I'm back to 'stache only. As often as we get calls out in Mayberry, I doubt if anyone's house will burn down between the test and getting home to shave.

samclem
12-07-2006, 06:30 PM
Kind of a poll -
Kind of moved to IMHO.

samclem

bouv
12-07-2006, 06:39 PM
Do you know that you actually wrote that where people could see it? :)

Hell, I've admitted to, and have even posted pictures here, of myself with a "walrus-stash" that I had when I was a firefighter. There were about three of us there with walrus staches, about ten more with regular moustaches, and a a couple goatees (when small enough, they can still be used with an SCBA.)

BiblioCat
12-07-2006, 08:52 PM
I personally haven't done one since I grew the beard, but once again, I don't think it will be a problem. All of the beards in the department are under an inch long.

If it is, 5 minutes with a razor, and I'm back to 'stache only. As often as we get calls out in Mayberry, I doubt if anyone's house will burn down between the test and getting home to shave.You can't even be fit-tested here with any facial hair on your chin or jawline. You can have a moustache, but not even so much as a goatee.
Makes no difference to me, as I'm of the non-facial hair growing gender, but I do have long hair and longish bangs. When I was fit-tested, and for practicals, I have to have a couple of barettes making sure all my hair is pulled back securely. Even a few wisps will screw up the seal.

I'm in a Mayberry-type department, too, and every so often someone will try to grow a beard or Fu Manchu style 'stache and our captain will tell them to shave or they can't ride till they do - it's a safety issue.

VunderBob
12-08-2006, 05:59 AM
You can't even be fit-tested here with any facial hair on your chin or jawline. You can have a moustache, but not even so much as a goatee.
Makes no difference to me, as I'm of the non-facial hair growing gender, but I do have long hair and longish bangs. When I was fit-tested, and for practicals, I have to have a couple of barettes making sure all my hair is pulled back securely. Even a few wisps will screw up the seal.

I'm in a Mayberry-type department, too, and every so often someone will try to grow a beard or Fu Manchu style 'stache and our captain will tell them to shave or they can't ride till they do - it's a safety issue.
It's all academic now. I shaved this morning, having proved to myself that I can finally grow a beard.

Trunk
12-08-2006, 08:16 AM
Little known falsehood. . .

Firemen grow moustaches to help filter out harmful particles that might be in the air during a fire.

Loach
12-08-2006, 09:49 AM
My police department has 90 officers. Subtract the 7 females. Out of the 83 left I can only think of 7 that have moustaches, and 2 of them are also volunteer firemen. I don't think that is a particularly high percentage.

gigi
12-08-2006, 11:18 AM
Our lab techs have to wear respirators when working with the infected animals and one tech had grown a beard and couldn't get a good fit test. It became something of an HR issue because the situation hadn't come up before and it wasn't clear whether he could be compelled to shave. Techs rotated and it wasn't essential that he be in that lab area, but he was supposed to be starting there.

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