Beards at the DC Fire Department

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in a case about whether DC Fire Departments are violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in requiring firefighters to shave their beards.  DC argued that facial hair interferes with the mask’s seal and increases exposure to toxic air.  Attorney Richard Love, on behalf of DC, argued that there is a compelling government interest to maximize public safety and that assigning a “bearded” firefighter to administrative duty does not go far enough to protect the public.

However, no death or injury has ever resulted from wearing the masks.  D.C. firefighters were allowed to wear beards until 2001.  If you’re interested, check out the Washington Times article about the plaintiffs.  
Source: Blog of Legal Times

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