A lawmaker said he will introduce legislation to help bearded firefighters who are barred from training with protective air masks. The state fire code prohibits such training for bearded firefighters because the mask is unable to fully seal against the skin.
Amish religious custom dictates that married men wear beards, and this means they are unable to get the training needed for state certification. Among other things, the number of certified firefighters can affect the amount of federal and state grant money a fire company will receive.
Rep. Gordon Denlinger, R-Lancaster, told about 40 firefighters on Wednesday he has drafted legislation that says the state Fire Commission may not violate a person’s religious freedom.
A Philadelphia Common Pleas judge ruled in September 2005 that a Muslim firefighter was not entitled to wear a beard on the job because of the safety risk that facial hair posed.