5 summer wardrobe tips for the active firefighter

These fashion tips won't leave you Fonzie cool or bucket of ice in front of a fan cool, but they will keep you looking good when it counts


It‘s summer again friends and that means the temperatures are getting hotter, the skirts are getting shorter, the bikinis are out and you‘re still stuck in the firehouse.

Just because it‘s summertime and the masses are out and about in their skimpy beachwear it doesn‘t mean professionalism gets to go on vacation too. I understand some of you work in hot environments. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. No, seriously, I still have the T-shirt.

Here are the five wardrobe tips you need to pay attention to this summer when on duty as a firefighter.

Photo/Pixabay

1. No shorts. Seriously.

If your department allows shorts, why not just add a tank top and some flip flop sandals to round out the ensemble? Wearing shorts tells me you‘re ready to pop open a cold one and watch some volleyball, not kneel next to my sick mother or help me with my broken wrist.

Shorts tells me it‘s a wittle too hwot for someone — that sounds better with a pouty face. Try it. And the difference between comfort and professionalism is apparently only 24 inches of fabric.

Imagine trying to get a loan from a guy in shorts. Do you trust him?

2. T-shirts in moderation and only if practically new.

We‘ve all got those folks on the job who seem oblivious to the state of their uniform attire. Faded, stained and holy shirts drive me insane and should do the same for you. If you are going to go out in your short sleeves follow a few simple steps.

  • First of all, yes, this is an internet list within an internet list. You‘re welcome.
  • The shirts need to match for the entire crew in style and condition. They are still part of the uniform and should be treated as such.
  • Shirts are always tucked in. Always. Have I mentioned always?
  • Polos are practically T-shirts. I had the option of wearing my embroidered polo, but I felt like I should be working the night desk at the Motel Notell not operating the pump panel.
  • Only shirts from your own Department. Yes, I used to be the guy who wore the other T-shirts. I also used to eat paste, so there you go.

3. Sunscreen and hats.

Wear it and wear them. Enough said.

4. Gear up on alarms.

I know it‘s hot but I‘d hate to explain to your widow or widower that you‘re in ICU severely burned because, “Well, he was a little hot and putting on the jacket, and the pants just seemed like overkill.” Gear up like you would any other day; you can thank me later.

5. Keep plenty of clean uniforms on hand.

Especially T-shirts and socks. You may go through two or three shirts in a shift, but that is far better than getting to the dinner table soaking wet and stinking of sweat.

Different departments have different rules regarding uniforms. I tried shorts one time in the New Mexico desert. It was 104 and I was hot in my cotton pants, so I changed into the shorts my co-workers were all wearing. I felt my level of professionalism dropped with each bare-kneed-step I took. Sure, it feels cool, but it certainly doesn‘t look cool.

“But Justin, who cares what we look like so long as we get the job done?”

Well, Sparky, not surprisingly your customers the tax payers care what you look like even as much as how quickly you get there when they call. Ask any of your customers what they remember about calling 911 and it won‘t be anything about your quick assessment of cardiac chest pain, your swift deployment of a 2 1/2-inch line instead of a 1 1/2-inch line, or the way that you vented the second floor with the 24-foot ladder alone.

No, they‘ll remember how fast you got there and what you looked like when you did. Do us all a favor and put just the slightest bit more effort into looking like a professional and you‘ll be amazed at how much more professional you feel. This goes for volunteers too. If you‘re doing a shift or in the station for a few hours, try to look the part, will you?

Have a great summer everyone. Don‘t change a bit, unless you‘re in shorts, then get changed.

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