‘They cut my braids off’



September 8, 2016
‘They cut my braids off’

Female firefighters object to hair rules

Firefighter says she lost her hair when she violated the CoCT's fire and rescue hair policy.

A female firefighter says she was humiliated at work when an officer cut off her braids because he deemed them a safety hazard.

The 32-year-old woman, who does not want to be identified, is one of a few rescuers who have spoken up this week about the City of Cape Town’s fire and rescue services hair policy.

Disgruntled firefighters say the regulation states that no synthetic hair or braids are allowed because it is “highly flammable”.

The woman says she showed up at work with shoulder-length braids and was ordered to remove them.

“When I got back from leave I was ordered to take out my braids because it is dangerous,” she says.

“The officer wanted to cut my hair during roll call then I said no.

“He cut half of my braids and said my helmet won’t fit.

“My colleagues told me to report the matter but I didn’t want to fight it, so I left it.”

Like her colleagues, the woman says she does her hair so she can look and feel more feminine in their male-dominated profession.

But City fire chief, Ian Schnetler, says synthetic hair is “highly flammable” and that their members’ safety is their first priority.

“Synthetic hair melts and causes secondary burns, whereas normal hair burns and does not give off any further residue.

“We are in the process of revising our uniform policy and we are including the matter of synthetic hair.

“At present, staff who have synthetic hair or extensions are requested to ensure that it is not a risk to themselves.

“It is permitted, and where it poses a specific risk, the staff are advised of the dangers of same,” he adds.

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