Does having a piercing have any effect on your ability to do your job as a firefighter? Body piercings have become increasingly popular nowadays and people want to know if it will affect their ability to get hired as a firefighter. So, can firefighters have piercings?
Whether or not firefighters can have piercings will depend on the policy of the individual fire department. Some will allow simple earrings, others require no piercings to be visible while in uniform. Check each department’s policies to see if body piercings are allowed.
However, despite the harmlessness of piercings, many fire departments require their firefighters to take off or tape their piercings while on duty. In this article, we’ll discuss what you can do if you have a body piercing. We’ll also discuss the various anti-piercing policies of some firehouses.
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You may also want to read: Can Firefighters Have Long/Beards/Dreads? Grooming Policies
Body-Piercing Rules in the Fire Service
The increasing popularity of body piercings in recent years has compelled a lot of fire departments across the globe to introduce policies against them. Here’s a look at what some fire departments have to say about body piercings.
London Fire Brigade
The London Fire Brigade (London, United Kingdom) contends that when body jewelry becomes a safety hazard at work, firefighters have a legal and moral obligation to remove the hazard or lower the risk. This policy is supported by the Health and Safety Services, Occupational Health Services, General Counsel, and the Inclusion Team.
Thus, the LFB calls for its firefighters to hide any piercings under protective equipment. If employees wish to get a new piercing while on service, they must first ask for permission to do so. They also need to ensure that the act of getting a piercing and the healing process does not interfere with their ability to perform their duties.
San Antonio Fire Department
The San Antonio Fire Department (San Antonio, Texas) does not raise safety concerns about body piercings. However, they want to ensure that their employees maintain a professional appearance.
In their regulations regarding all body art – which includes piercings – the SAFD prohibits any foreign object pierced into the skin for cosmetic effect. They do, however, allow ear piercings, as long as they are not too big or too numerous.
Phoenix Fire Department
The Phoenix Fire Department (Phoenix, Arizona) respects the right of firefighters to wear any jewelry, so long as it is conservative, appropriate, not offensive, and not a safety concern. However, the only allowed jewelry on visible body parts is earrings.
Firefighters can have body piercings under their uniforms, though.
Also read: Can Firefighters Have Tattoos? It Depends…
What to Do if You Have Body Jewelry
So, you have a piercing or two. That doesn’t automatically rule out a career in firefighting. A number of things can be done to deal with this “problem.”
1. Know the Rules
First and foremost, read the fire department policies in the area you want to work. Not every fire department in the world has a problem with piercings. In fact, some firehouses may have a policy against them, but choose not to enforce it.
Your department may be appeased if you sign a waiver that states that the department will not be held liable for any injury or damage brought about by your piercings while on duty.
2. Take Them Off
The simplest method is to leave your piercings at home when you leave for work.
However, this method may not be so simple for people who love their body jewelry. And if you’re a volunteer firefighter, you might get a call when you’re out and about, leaving you no time to safely remove your piercing before responding.
Also, not wearing your piercings for an extended period may close the hole. If you’re particularly fond of your piercings, having to frequently remove them for work may end up making it impossible for you to wear them.
If you absolutely must wear your piercings to a call, you have two options for covering them: piercing retainers and foundation tape. We’ll discuss both of these tools in a moment.
3. Wear Piercing Retainers
Piercing retainers are plastic or metal tools that are used in place of the body jewelry to hide the hole and keep it open. They come in different shapes and colors. Clear, translucent, and flesh-colored retainers are popular because they make your piercings almost invisible.
Some fire departments that ban piercings because they want their employees to look professional allow piercing retainers. Make sure to check with your supervisor regarding this.
If you’re in need of piercing retainers, an excellent (and extremely affordable) option is the D.Bella Piercing Retainer Kit. It contains clear, flexible retainers for all different kinds of piercings, including horseshoe rings, tongue barbells, nose studs, curved bars, and gauges.
The body part locations this set covers include the tongue, nose, septum, lip, ear lobe, cartilage, tragus, belly button, conch, and miscellaneous cartilage.
4. Tape Them
Another option is to tape your piercings whenever you are on duty. This way, you can wear your piercings, and you don’t have to worry about the hole closing up. Taping is also a safety measure as it prevents the piercings from getting tangled up in something.
Flesh-colored tapes are available on the market at a pretty low price. Foundation tapes, for example, are so effective that it is impossible to tell whether you have a piercing or tattoo underneath.
If you’re in need of an effective foundation tape, an excellent option is the Tat2X Cover Up Tape. While created and marketed for tattoo cover-up, this tape will work just as well at covering piercings, too.
However, this tape only covers lighter skin tones. If you have darker skin, check out these options at Foundation-Tape.net
It’s important to note that even covering your piercings with tape might not make them allowed in your department. Make sure to check with your supervisor before you show up for work with a new piercing and a misguided expectation that you’ll merely be able to tape it up when a call comes in.
5. Get a Hidden Piercing
Most fire departments only have a problem with visible piercings. Piercings under your turnout gear do not pose a safety hazard and will not be exposed to the public; hence, they are usually allowed.
So, if you are a firefighter who wants to get a piercing, just avoid getting one on the eyebrows, nose, or tongue. How about one on the belly button instead?
Are These Rules a Violation of Your Rights?
An ongoing debate exists that preventing firefighters from getting a piercing or requiring them to remove existing ones may be a violation of their constitutional rights.
The constitutions of most countries allow citizens to express themselves in ways that are not harmful to the general public.
In the United States, employers have the right to enforce appearance policies on their employees however they see fit. Thus, requiring firefighters not to wear visible piercings at work is legal.
What’s not legal is a discriminatory policy.
An example is allowing female employees to wear earrings but preventing male employees from doing so – this is gender discrimination. Another example is not allowing jewelry with religious or cultural symbolism, but allowing generic jewelry that does not represent a particular ideology or cause.
Body piercings are generally not a safety hazard. However, several fire departments object to piercings on visible body parts to maintain a professional image among their employees.
When reporting for firefighting duty, you can:
- Wear your piercings if it’s not against policy.
- Take your piercings off if they aren’t allowed on visible body parts.
- Wear a piercing retainer.
- Tape your piercings.
- Get a piercing that’s hidden under your uniform.
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