Florida Firefighter Group Questions Hair Policy

An advocacy group is claiming that a Jacksonville firefighter was wrongfully sent home allegedly because of his hair, but actually because of his race. The Jacksonville Brotherhood of Firefighters brought the issue to light publicly.  

The unnamed firefighter was reportedly working an overtime shift, and directed to either cut his hair or go home. The firefighter chose to go home, forgoing the overtime opportunity. The incident did not result in disciplinary charges but is being grieved.

According to Terrance Jones, a spokesperson for the Brotherhood of Firefighters, there was nothing wrong with the firefighter’s hair and the order to cut his hair or go home was illegal.

Billy Goldfeder has more on this on his Firefighter Close Calls.

It would appear the issue is over equal enforcement of the rules, and not whether firefighters should be permitted to work with long hair. The safety issues with long hair should be clear – and are not just fire-related. Perhaps more importantly the concerns are entanglement-related. Safety rules should never be used as a pre-text for discrimination, but safety cannot be ignored. Take a look the entanglement issue:

Here is another entanglement video that would not embed: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/7KfWXVZjeOU

And another: https://youtu.be/hbpbXLa0AKM

And another: https://youtu.be/o3rLrpgpnkM

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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