UNION CITY, N.J., Oct. 18 (UPI) — Firefighters in New Jersey said they were outraged to be told they could not wear pink T-shirts for Breast Cancer Awareness Month while on the job.
Tom Calucci, vice president of the North Hudson Firefighters Association, said firefighters with North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue received permission in September to participate in the October awareness campaign and purchased T-shirts to benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, The Jersey Journal, Jersey City, N.J., reported Monday.
However, Calucci said officials have now told firefighters they can only wear the shirts while inside their fire houses and can only sport them in public if they are covered by department-issued shirts.
“Practice has been for fire alarms and accidents that your fire coat is required, no one is arguing that,” Calucci said. “However, after you walk out of a burning building or extinguish a fire, it is not uncommon to take the jacket off, and that has never been a problem.”
Jeff Welz, co-director of the department, said officials want firefighters to maintain a professional image.
“We want to have a uniform so people know they’re really firefighters and they look professional,” said Welz, who said he survived colon cancer and supports breast cancer awareness and research. “They can wear the pink T-shirt in headquarters, but not in public.”
“There is a chief and there are two part-time directors and no one gave them (the firefighters) the OK to do what they want to do,” Welz said.