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Aug 13, 2014

beard prevents fireman candidate to be rejected in Israel

The Firemans Authority has recently issued a new directive. No fireman in Israel is allowed to have a beard. they must all be clean-shaven. The new directive is seemingly in line with international standards.

A bit of research shows that this is truly the international standard. The reason for it is so that the seal of the mask and breathing apparatus should be tight and remain unbroken. Beards might interfere with the seal, though it seems mustaches are generally ok. A little bit of research also seems to indicate that this is generally considered an important rule and one that is appropriate to be enforced.

The reason this makes the news now is because the new directive in Israel was issued just in time to prevent a Haredi man who has been training to be a fireman.from getting certified. Because he has a beard and refuses to shave it.

A bit of a ruckus was started over this, but the authority did not back down. Dossim now reports that the firemen themselves have decided to support the haredi candidate. The Director of the Fireman's Committee has issued an order to all the firemen to not shave, in solidarity with the candidate.

There are about 50 bearded firemen serving today in the service. One, a Chabadnik that recently took a course to be certified as a fireman has not been certified because of his beard. There were another two bearded candidates, but they shaved when told the new rule. The new rule was only announced shortly before the graduation ceremony. Because of this, the association of firemen decided to go on strike and none of the active firemen will be shaving.

The director of the association says that special masks can be purchased that would allow bearded firemen to serve, with their beards.

In response, the head of the authority says that he warned the candidates at the beginning of the course and a number of times throughout, that they would have to shave or not be certified. No new firemen will be certified with beards. Regarding firemen already serving with beards, the issue will be worked out with the workers association. He also said he knows of no such mask for bearded firemen.

In the USA, in Washington DC, an Orthodox Jew who was an active fireman sued when new regulations were put in place that would have forced him to either shave or resign. The courts sided on his behalf because it seems the district failed to prove the fireman with a beard would actually be in any more danger. As well, in situations where the necessary device is need that conflicts with the beard, bearded firemen would be reassigned to other duties.

I wonder if this fellow sues here in Israel, would the courts rule the same way or would they uphold the new regulations?

Is it just a matter of a real safety issue that happened to be bad timing, or was it really a way of keeping out the chabadnik?

People never like new standards and regulations. Considering that it is nothing unique here, but they are implementing safety standards that are used all over the world, I am inclined to believe it to be a matter of bad timing.

I do not know if such a mask for bearded men exists or not, and if ti does if it has been tested and deemed safe, but if it does exist and has been tested, it should be embraced by the fire department authority.

If not, people aspiring to be firemen should only do so if they are willing to comply with safety standards. We would not want a fireman passing out on the job due to smoke inhalation and endangering the people he is meant to be saving, and himself!

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