Just over a year ago I had the opportunity to travel and teach with a couple great rescue guys. While on the trip Phil Burden’s wife took a picture of us and I quickly noticed I was the only one without a mustache. Afterwards, I joked that maybe it was time that I got one / grew one. They continued calling me the kid and probably wondered if I could actually grow a mustache.
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Fast-forward to the BGSU State Fire School Heavy Rescue class this past week when we were eating breakfast at a local diner in Sylvania, Ohio. Just as we were finished eating, Phil gave me a package that his wife sent. Inside was my very own mustache.
We know that mustaches and gray hair often represent experience, knowledge, and credibility. Although I don’t have the years of service that some seasoned veterans do; I’ve been very fortunate to teach with some of the best. Not only have I been able to share what I know, but have continued learning at every meal, rescue scenario that we set up, and during every tailgate chat with some great friends, mentors, and rescue junkies.
Mustaches and even beards have been a part of the fire service for years. Here is a quote from an article I wrote a while back for Fire Engineering magazine.
Also in the early years, respiratory protection for firefighters was minimal. Tales are told of firemen growing beards, soaking them in water, biting the beards, and breathing through them when in a smoke-filled environment. The beard may have acted as a filter, but they would still get choked up by the fire’s by-products.
Read the whole article on the history of firefighter personal protective equipment HERE.
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