Los Angeles/ Community & Society
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Published on September 22, 2023
Are Tattoos Still a Taboo? Los Angles FD Reconsiders Its Tattoo PolicySource: Los Angeles Fire Department

As society continues to evolve, some organizations still hold on to their tattoo policies. According to a recent CBS News article, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) is reviewing its 15-year-old tattoo policy seeking input from the community to understand the cultural shift and reconsider the regulation. The decades-old policy enforces covering all tattoos, scarification, and brandings, disallowing visible body art when on duty.

With Pew Research Center's study suggesting that 32% of American adults have a tattoo, and 22% having more than one, it is crucial to take into consideration the changing perception towards body art. The discussions around tattoos in the workplace have become prevalent in recent years, and the LAFD is now opening up to the possibility of revising its policy. An official statement on the LAFD website emphasizes the pride the department has in maintaining a professional image while acknowledging the growing acceptability of tattoos within the public sphere.

Some of the negative impacts resulting from the current policy, highlighted by the firefighters, include operational and response challenges, lack of acceptance and inclusion, and heat-related issues due to constantly wearing long sleeves. This is reminiscent of the military's earlier tattoo regulations before they relaxed the rules to accommodate tattoos on any part of the body, barring the head, neck, and hands. Several local agencies have followed the military's lead in revamping their policies, and it seems the LAFD is considering doing the same.

In asking for community input in surveys posted on their social media channels, the LAFD is encouraging citizens to weigh in on the subject. The process is aims to ensure that any prospective changes to the policy are made with the community's consent and reflect the city's diversity and inclusiveness.

It is important to note that while the LAFD appears willing to reconsider the visible display of body art, the department remains committed to prohibiting tattoos carrying offensive, extremist, or hateful messages. This demonstrates the attempt to strike a balance between embracing change in societal attitudes towards tattoos and maintaining the ethical code the LAFD holds paramount.

With the deadline for responding to the survey set for Friday, October 6, it remains to be seen whether the feedback will result in significant changes to the LAFD's tattoo policy. A revision of the policy could open the doors for applicants who were previously not considered for hire due to their tattoos, thus widening the pool of potential firefighters in a city that frequently faces emergency situations.