06/14/11 35 W - + 1 - 5 Quick Poll: Who Wears Shorts?

By reader request, here's a quick poll. Which Wake County fire departments wear shorts during the summer? Raleigh and Western Wake come readily to mind. Who else?

Thanks for participating.

Starting this year, we are allowed to wear them at Apex. We can wear them if it is 85 and above, and the entire company must wear them. We are also required to wear turnout pants over the shorts for anything that could involve blood-borne pathogen exposure.
Bob P. - 06/14/11 - 08:12

Just a question. Do you have to wear a turnout coat to protect your arms if you’re wearing short sleved shirts too? (just a jab)
Ryan - 06/14/11 - 09:28

We wear them in Garner
Mike - 06/14/11 - 09:50

We wear them at Falls.
Marcus - 06/14/11 - 11:00

And EMS bike teams don’t wear anything over their legs on “messy” calls. It has been proven that skin is a very good barrier to blood borne pathogens as long as prompt irrigation is performed. I don’t really understand the turnout pants on EMS calls things. I think they impose a greater risk of spreading germs: they are bulkier, you might not realize they got into anything, and they aren’t washed after most EMS calls.
John - 06/14/11 - 11:12

Moville wears them. 80 degrees or higher. Whole company has to wear them or nobody wears them.
Spanky - 06/14/11 - 11:25

WNHFD wears them. Must have black shoes and socks.
AB - 06/14/11 - 11:55

We wear them at the Airport. Usually, you can wear them anytime you choose between March and November. Must have black shoes and socks. No boots. They are department issued black BDU shorts.
RDU CFR - 06/14/11 - 13:50

We wear them in Cary, the only draw back for us is that ours are allowed on a time table rather than a certain temperature. We can wear them beginning June 1 and ending on October 1. It gets hot enough to wear them in March and continues through November so therefore we are in the process of changing over to a temperature related guideline. We also have to wear bunker pants if we go on a run and Ryan is so right when he said "do we wear long sleeved shirts to cover our arms…..."
Jacot - 06/14/11 - 14:17


Yea. I just wanted to pose that question as to some’s logic. We can finally wear them down here in Wilmington. (For three years now.) I have heared some people say that turnout pants are a must with the shorts for protection, but my argument would be that if it is necessary to cover the legs then it must be necessary to cover the arms as well.
We technically cannot wear our turnouts into our stations so that combustion products are not spread throughout the building(not a bad idea.) Yet we allow ourselves to don our gear for kids who tour our stations and come up and “touch the firefighter” or better yet, take our gear into a classrom with the children and do the same.

Food for thought- and sorry to hijack a thread Mike.
Ryan - 06/14/11 - 14:24

Thanks Mike! Ryan, very good point. Ive always wondered the same thing. Wearing shorts and having to put gear on for EMS calls…Really? You hit the nail on the head about T-shirts. We carry Personal Protective kits on the trucks if its a “messy” call. Ive never used one of them nor have i put my arm down in someones blood or poo. Just sayin…

We dont wear shorts at my Dept. Maybe its in the works but not sure. What about the research? Has anybody seen or developed any data on the effects of wearing shorts in the hot months as opposed to wearing pants. Ray Charles could see that it makes the body cooler but what about numbers/degrees etc..?
TTaylor - 06/14/11 - 15:07

[ removed by user request ]
Brass Bait - 06/14/11 - 16:48

Thanks Brass. Im in the process now of doing the research, I just didnt know if Raleigh or Cary or Wake EMS had already had something put together on this topic.
TTaylor - 06/14/11 - 17:29

[ removed by user request ]
Brass Bait - 06/14/11 - 18:15

We don’t wear shorts at our department. Reasoning was there are people with visible tattoos on their legs, as well as some rather large members who the brass think would look unprofessional (disgusting I think was used too) in shorts. I don’t buy the whole shorts are an exposure risk (or unprofessional), as our duty pants don’t have any kind of BBP barrier in them, as well as our arms being exposed too. If you know it’s going to be a messy call (Bad trauma, CPR, OB, etc ;) use some common sense and wear your bunker pants and/or gown to protect yourself.

I’d love to wear shorts when it’s hot outside. I’d love to have my t-shirt back too for the same reason, as well as the fact that they get dirty & stained so easily and from a budget standpoint ($2.50 for a t-shirt, $35 for a polo). I’m all for looking good, but this is still a blue collar, down & dirty job. We’re firemen, not desk jockeys.
Drives a Ladder - 06/14/11 - 19:40

T shirts are no longer 2.50 I just placed a large order and they were around 10.00. The price of cotten has rocketed and madr prices increase. As far as shorts I am not a fan of them. Our guys do wear them as Bob said. They do look better with golf shirt vs a t shirt. As for the turnout gear goes, I was told it was so of you kneel down as most folks do you are somewhat protected. You rarely if ever put your elbows on the floor while doing CPR, you do put your knees or legs down
Scooter - 06/14/11 - 20:00

see paramedics do it all the time…in a golf shirt. Ive kneeled down on the floor several times and have still never put my knees in the nasty because of the common sense thing. So the bunker pants and shorts thing is ridiculous!
TTaylor - 06/14/11 - 21:44

We wear them in BLVFD, and am thank full for them.
Dove - 06/14/11 - 21:47

Cary was allowed to wear shorts because the suggestion to the Fire Chief was from a health and safety standpoint. Our pants in the summer retain body heat which in turn cause reduced work time and fatigue. The end result is that the retention of body heat causes undue stress on the cardiovascular system resulting in the increase of heart disease and the possibility of heart attacks. FDNY has done a study on pants vs shorts and related work times. This is the study that most departments use when attempting the change.
Jacot - 06/14/11 - 22:35

as stated already Western Wake members are allowed to wear shorts year round. It is left to the individual to determine when they feel more comfortable wearing shorts versus pants. Black shoes, or ankle high boots, black socks.

We are not ‘required’ to wear bunkers on EMS runs while in shorts, as it is left to the individual (or company officer) to make the determination on if they need them.

I personally cannot concur more with the earlier statements about exposure to possible pathogens on the knees or legs while wearing shorts. It has been stated time and time again the intact non-broken skin is one of the most effective barriers against BBP. And it is even more true that our 100% cotton (NFPA approved) work pants do nothing to protect us from BBP, as a matter of a fact they absorb and retain them in their fabric. So now versus a quick wipe down you have to properly wash the pants, waiting until you return to the firehouse to do so. I’ve been doing this for a little while now, and have only gotten my gear contaminated a couple times, mostly on TCs and other trauma calls, not your breathing difficulty, or cardiac or ‘manpower’ calls. Common sense goes a long way here.

I enjoy being able to wear shorts at both the departments I work for and am happy to have such a privledge.
shevais - 06/14/11 - 22:51

@Jacot, you’re spot on with the studies relating to core temperature. I think one was done by some folks in Canada (of all places) as well. I think last year there were two exposures in the city; one to the eyes and the other to the ARMS!!! Unbroken skin is the best barrier guys….

I’m thankful for my shorts, and thankful that Admin treats us like big boys and girls when it comes to uniforms. Today I’m working at Engine 7, wearing my third t-shirt of the day, thankful for them as well. This is a dirty job, blue collar as stated above. When someone finds themselves to be a bit chilly and need a sweatshirt, I may be sweating my “you know whats” off. With the crazy weather we have in NC, it may be 80 in February. My personal rule, if it’s above 40 degrees when I’m getting ready in the morning, shorts it is along with a job shirt.

I’ve heard the stories of certain places having to stop what they were doing and put pants on because the temperature dropped below the magical number!!! Are you kidding me?!? We should have way bigger things to worry about than that….big city mindset versus small town mindset I guess (rolls eyes)...
Silver - 06/14/11 - 23:00

When I was riding the rigs two decades ago, I discovered the cooling properties of pant-less summer firefighting. When the buzzer hit, I hid behind the engine and left my trousers in the back of the station. This worked pretty well, except in rehab situations. Bunker pants stayed on!
Legeros - 06/14/11 - 23:08

All in All nobody cares what you look like on a run they just want your services
Debbie Downer - 06/14/11 - 23:43

Stony Hill personnel may wear uniform shorts year round. The same uniform aspects apply as others (BDU style, belts, color, etc.)
A.C. Rich - 06/15/11 - 00:54


I wish that were the case. Public image is one of the command staff’s priorities and they want to insure that we look our best at all times. Don’t be caught without your polo shirt, tucked in, at any time unless you have your bunker coat on. I feel when you’re out in public at the store, out to eat, community service, building tours or running errands, that the polo looks good, but for around the house (only trains and buses have stations) and day to day business like clean up, truck check off, hydrant maintenance, and yard work, the t-shirt is a much better option. It’s cooler and still much cheaper than a polo. I’ve ruined several polo’s from checking off my rig by being underneath it, topping off fluids with the cab raised, operating the saws & hydraulic equipment and wiping our compartments. Why not ruin a t-shirt that costs much less to replace?

As far as shorts, I don’t think there is much more that can be said about the benefits of shorts that hasn’t already been said above, and we can still look professional with shorts. Another reason given for no shorts was the command staff wanted everybody to look the same and there are folks that would be wearing shorts in the middle of winter (I have no problem with that), and people who are cold natured that want a sweatshirt in the middle of July and no consensus among crews as to who was wearing what uniform that day.
Drives A Ladder - 06/15/11 - 10:40

Dear Chief Officers,
Here is an idea, We all agree at the firehouse that the department shall not have to pay for the uniform change. Lets do this, keep ordering the same amount of pants, shirts, etc. and change nothing with the uniform budget. Out of our own (employees) pocket, we will agree to buy the pair of choice that you will allow, the socks and even our own duty shoes that “go” with the shorts. This means that everyone will have the same shorts(ie. uniform department). Example: you, the Chief, suggest that the shorts can only be purchased from Century Uniform and they must be BDU style, brand X. I am sure everyone will agree to make this purchase their selves. Another thing is I am sure of is that you will have plenty of career guys that will volunteer to make a new SOG that also includes something about the entire crew “must wear shorts at the same time,” so there will not be a Captain that has pants on while the rest of the crew has shorts. This would be a HUGE morale booster for the department. Thank You for your thoughtful consideration.
p.s. nobody said that the Chief had to wear shorts too.
Wears pants proudly!!! and loves his/her job. - 06/17/11 - 00:11

Im sure everyone understands what a "uniform" and "uniform policy" is. Here is the definition of "uniform" 1- Identical, consistent. 2- without variations to detail 3- constant, unvarying, undeviating. Does this sound like any local departments "uniform policy"? Does any department actualll look uniformed when out in public. By definition, very few do. We need to stop calling them uniforms and maybe start calling it work attire.
justforfun - 06/17/11 - 10:50

And the “noun” definition is; “1) A distinctive outfit intended to identify those who wear it as members of a specific group”. So pants, shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, polos, and job shirts all accomplish this…
Silver - 06/17/11 - 16:49

Ok some of our leaders worry about our professional appearance with shorts if they are on husky “larger” sized firefighters, but do not think that when our big boys are out in public with a golf shirt, uniform shirt with the buttons are under extreme stress with pants look better please! I am no poster boy for the fire service but I hate it when they worry about tattoos, t shirt versus uniform shirt or golf shirt, when you have ppl that make a class a uniform look unprofessional because they cant see that their fly is open or they are wearing one black sock and one blue because it’s under their large equator! Just saying!
Jason Lane - 06/17/11 - 20:13

When I say our leaders that is a general statement and is directed at other fire departments!
Jason Lane - 06/17/11 - 20:15

Well said Jason, well said! I am fortunate in that my department allows us to wear shorts without much restriction. I personally like wearing the shorts and see it as no more unprofessional than the same scenarios that Jason was talking about.
For all of you out there talking about shorts are not professional looking and what "uniform" looks appropriate and everyone HAS to wear the same "uniform", I’m here to tell ya, professionalism and looking professional are FAR MORE about the way you carry yourself than what you wear or that everyone "matches". Not to hijack this blog, but I’d like to ask this…how many of you out there work EVERY DAY to make sure that you,your crew,shift, department are THE BEST at their job that they can be and are prepared for whatever comes???? I mean it’s nice to debate back and forth about things (I’m guilty too!) and worry about shorts vs pants, t-shirts vs golf shirts, BUT...looking at pics/videos and listening to radio traffic from around the city/county there are folks who CAN’T perform basic firefighter skills effectively and efficiently! Engine company guys, when was the last time you trained on stretching lines, securing a water supply, walked through buildings under construction to see what it’s made out of? Ladder/truck/rescue guys, when was the last time you trained on throwing ladders? securing utilities? search techniques? played with ventilation? Guys…these are all things that can be done around your houses, just get out and do it!
Again Mike, sorry to hijack the blog, but as Silver said earlier and even Jason hinted at…there are FAR more important issues facing us today than debating over whether shorts are professional or unprofessional looking and whether the entire crew looks the same! Make sure that the folks are healthy, trained, and safe and go home in that manner!!
Off my soapbox, STAY SAFE!
Wayne - 06/17/11 - 20:59

Thanks Wayne! 12 years ago when were starting to make that transition to golf shirts, we still wore the blue and white uniform shirts and wash and wear pants. Some of our staff young and old did not like the idea of wearing golf shirts saying it “didn’t look professional”! However, I worked with a captain on the ladder that everyone hated to work with, he was so embarrassing! Not just his job skills, knowledge but his appearance. He would get his white shirt from the bottom of his locker and put his gold on it and did not mind at all how he looked and the chiefs did not mind either because he was a captain! Anyway, be safe brothers.
Jason Lane - 06/17/11 - 22:45

“Ummm, uh, where’s Jason… uh, ummm,... are you Morzella?” :-)
A.C. Rich - 06/18/11 - 00:58

I think the interest and enthusiasm for our shows an obvious need for a local fire-service rendition of “Short Shorts,” the novelty song from the 1950s. Whose game for a sing-along at the next county firefighter’s association meeting Or maybe we need another attempt at a blog lunch, to facilitate such a historic event!

Lyrics easily found on Google. Think of the all-star line-up we could offer on group vocals. Silver, Shev, DJ, AC, Wayne, Jason, Bob, Marcus, Spanky, (who’d I forget?) and then the backing vocals with a bunch of folks wearing paper bags over their heads. Not ‘cause they’re ugly (well, they might be), but because they’re… anonymous!

Recorded by the Royal Teens, 1957: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcvjXAtza..
Legeros - 06/18/11 - 09:21

I will still require a paper bag!
A.C. Rich - 06/18/11 - 09:41

But we need a name, AC. Mikey and Blog-Tones? The Blog-Ettes? The Hoser Downs? The Amazing, All-Star, Anonymous Traveling Musical Show and Revue?
Legeros - 06/18/11 - 10:40

Geez, Mike…I got a little vomit in my mouth at the visual…and the potential audio
DJ - 06/18/11 - 12:17

Grow a pair! I haven’t even suggested the stage costumes yet! Visualize… sequins.
Legeros - 06/18/11 - 12:19

Sign me up!
Spanky - 06/18/11 - 14:02

Remember personal info?

/ Textile

Comment moderation is enabled on this site. This means that your comment will not be visible on this site until it has been approved by an editor.

To prevent spam we require you to answer this silly question

  (Register your username / Log in)

Hide email:

Small print: All html tags except <b> and <i> will be removed from your comment. You can make links by just typing the url or mail-address.