News

Take your job and shave it - firie quits over beard rule

Veteran firefighter Ken Brown has quit the service after refusing to shave off his beard.
Veteran firefighter Ken Brown has quit the service after refusing to shave off his beard. Jim Campbell

ONE of the Western Downs' most experienced firefighters has been forced out of his station over a bureaucratic beard ban.

Ken Brown, who has served with the Miles Auxiliary Fire Service for the past 18 years, resigned this week after refusing an order to shave his beard.

Ken said he was given the choice - shave, move into a support role doing station-based duties or leave.

For Ken, a proud bearded man of 15 years, there was only one option.

On Monday he hung up his helmet, handed back his shirts and walked away from a job he loved.

Ken had been awarded the National Medal for Service, a Diligent and Ethical Service Medal and the Queensland Flood and Cyclone Citation.

He has had to identify dead friends at road crashes and has removed an incinerated cousin from a burnt-out car.

And he has done it all with his beard.

Click here to read Chinchilla News editor Jim Campbell's opinion piece on this story

But a long-standing Queensland Fire and Emergency Service rule prevents firefighters from sporting beards as they could interfere with the life-saving breathing apparatus they wear in emergency situations.

However Ken said he had never failed an annual BA face fit test.

In fact, he said his BA actually was wider than his goatee.

Ken also said the occasions on which he would be required to wear a BA kit would be on less than 5% of jobs.

"I just can't believe it," he said.

"I think they thought I was going to run home and shave but this beard is in my DNA."

Ken said he joined in 1997 following a fatal car crash near Miles, where a lack of officers hindered the job.

His full-time job is driving a school bus and when he is called out to emergencies during work he has to pay a replacement driver $10 an hour more than he earns as a firefighter.

"We don't do it for the money," Ken said.

"I acknowledge I was given an option not to resign but for me there was no option."

Miles Auxiliary captain Ray Duncombe said he was losing a "respected and experienced" firefighter.

"As everyone is aware we are struggling for staff as it is and to be put in this situation, albeit not unexpectedly, is extremely disappointing," he said.

But while he might not be an official firefighter, Ken said that won't stop him helping his community.

"If I come across an accident now I won't drive past," he said.

"I won't let someone die."

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Dalby area commander Warren Buckley said it was all a matter of safety.

Inspector Buckley said the organisation was "really cracking down".

"Beards have never been allowed in the organisation," he said.

"This should have been knocked on the head a long time ago."

Insp Buckley said QFES would not budge on the beard ban, despite moustaches being allowed.

"We'd love to keep him if he shaved off the bottom of his beard," he said.

"But the policy is that beards are not allowed."

Topics:  beard chinchilla news editors picks miles qfes


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

This week's pound pets

PUPPY DOG EYES: This female foxy terrier cross is very friendly and while she's at times exciteable, she grows quiet with contentment when cuddled. She is thought to be between three and four years old.

These three pooches are all looking for their fur-ever homes.

Suncorp Miles retail branch to close this afternoon

Suncorp Bank is closing four retail branches today.

Four retail branches to close around the Maranoa from today

Good cop, bye cop: Sgt Wiltshire calls it a day with Miles

Miles Police officer-in-charge Sergeant Ben Wiltshire is moving on after more than six years.

In a period of change, Sgt Ben Wiltshire has witnessed a lot.

Local Partners

Chinchilla OP1 student off to JCU

CSHS student 'surprised' to receive OP1, but no changes to study plans

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Noll meltdown won't affect Gympie Oz Day concert

Shannon Noll

Photo Contributed

Shannon Noll is still expected to perform in Gympie next Thursday

The surprising problem police face at Woodford Folk Festival

STREET SCENE: Woodford Folk Festival 2016.

The biggest issue for police at Woodfordia is not what you'd expect

Lion roars to straight to No 1 at Aussie box office

Nicole Kidman, David Wenham and Sunny Pawar in a scene from the movie Lion.

THE Australian-made movie a hit, while Rogue One nears record mark.

Ozzy Osbourne fell asleep during his driving test

Not a good idea to give Ozzy a Ferrari

Kristen Stewart to host SNL

Kristen Stewart will host a pre-Super Bowl episode of SNL next month

Louis Tomlinson celebrated his son's first birthday

Louis Tomlinson and Briana Jungwirth celebrate son's first birthday

Kylie Minogue will take husband's name

Kylie Minogue will take her fiancé Joshua Sasse's surname

Nicole reveals her biggest parenting challenges

Actress Nicole Kidman.

Nicole Kidman says her kids are ‘deeply attuned' to her moods.

Why investors are flocking to Moranbah

Moranbah homes are selling like hotcakes, creating a supply problem

Investors are scrambling to get into the market

Stockland's $150m pitch: Build it and they will come

Gladstone Marina. The Gladstone Regional Council offers a range of exciting job opportunities. Photo Contributed: Murray Ware.

Here's why we need to see Stockland upgrade start soon.

By the water's edge

Secure your seachange

HOT PROPERTY: Money to spend on land, buildings

File picture.

Sale, leasing of industrial real estate picks up in Mackay

Collapsed Coast company could owe up to $5 million

Staff, ATO, landlords among those out of pocket.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!