NJ Firefighters Can't Wear Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

Pink breast cancer t-shirts banned for NJ firefighters

Firefighters in New Jersey are facing red tape over their effort to show support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue team have been told they will face disciplinary action if they are caught in public wearing the pink t-shirts they bought to show support for the campaign.

According to Tom Calucci, vice president of the North Hudson Firefighters Association, the firefighters received permission to purchase the pink T-shirts back in September, as a part of the national Pink for a Cure campaign.

Since then, officials have told firefighters the T-shirt can be worn only inside firehouses or underneath their fire coats or department-issued T-shirts when in public.

NHRFR co-director Jeff Welz, a colon cancer survivor, told the Jersey Journal that firefighters aren’t allowed to alter the uniform, and that the department is only trying to maintain a professional image. Welz also disputes that anyone gave the firefighters permission to order the pink shirts to wear in lieu of their regulation uniforms.

According to Calucci, the only difference between the shirts they ordered and their standard t-shirts is the pink color. He doesn’t see how a change in hue would compromise the fire department’s integrity -- especially when other traditionally macho organizations like the NFL are wearing pink in support of breast cancer research. He also points out that the shirts were bought with the union’s own money, not at the expense of taxpayer dollars.

First, I have to say that I am not a huge fan of the Pink for a Cure campaign. So many businesses see it as a way to sell some lousy pink trinket for too much money and then give a ridiculously small percentage of their profits back to breast cancer charities. Not to mention the fact that many of the aforementioned pink products are not even good for your health.

All that aside, I do support the firefighters’ mission to raise awareness for breast cancer research. What makes breast cancer especially terrifying to many women is the prospect of it disfiguring a part of us that is so closely tied to our appearance and sexual identity. To have the macho-est of men step forward and say they want to show their solidarity means more to me, and I have to imagine, breast cancer survivors, than buying a pink spatula.

If it’s always been the rule that firefighters must wear blue t-shirts, and they’ve never been allowed to alter them before, then I don’t really see what the stink is about. But if it’s simply because the officials are afraid their men will look silly/girly/gay in pink, well, then I think they’ve got quite a few issues besides breast cancer awareness that need to be tackled in their firehouses.

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