Beauty to one person means something else entirely to another -- and that includes body art. Tattoos often denote religious or personal beliefs, artistic or personal symbols and declarations of love, among other things. As a firefighter, or someone looking for a job on a fire department, you may wonder if that new tattoo you just got will cause you problems at work or prevent you from getting a job, but it all depends on the individual fire department's grooming standards.
Cover it Up
While you won't get fired if you already have a tattoo as an employee of most fire departments, most departments have adopted policies on grooming, which includes tattoos, branding or scarifying. All of these elements represent some kind of permanent skin marking. When you're on duty or out in the field as a firefighter, you'll need to keep your tattoos covered up. Some departments might permit you to display your tattooed wedding ring, commitment band or even small conservative tattoos, but all other tattoos must be remain hidden by your uniform or by some other means.
When you work for the Los Angeles Fire Department, for example, if your uniform doesn't cover up your tattoo, you must put on a skin patch to cover it up. If already employed, some departments restrict you from getting tattoos that cannot be covered up. For instance, tattoos on your face or neck would not be permitted and can disqualify you as a job applicant.
The Clark County Fire Department in Washington, for example, allows firefighters to have conservative tattoos on arms or legs. The fire department defines conservative tattoos as those that are no bigger than 1.2 square inches or 1.5 inches in diameter. Tattoos cannot depict violence, anti-social, racial and sexual scenes or profanity. Tattoos on other parts of the body covered by the uniform are acceptable. But tattoos on the face or neck are not. The CCFD fire chief has the final say on all tattoos, as is common in most departments.
Public perception of fire department safety personnel is typically the reason for tattoo policies. Fire departments require members to present a professional image when in the field. This includes conforming to socially accepted standards of grooming and appearance. Because tattoos also negative connotations, they can cause negative public perception of firefighters.
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.