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Hell, Dustin Titzman from san antonio fire dept here. Does anyone have any information on justifying wearing shorts on ems calls? I have 6 years in the dept, 2.5 of which in ems and the summers here are hot. I've worked at least a couple thousand ems calls now and cant find a reason why ankle to knee is any more dangerous than elbow to wrist in short sleeves, but our dept heads dont see it that way. Please help.

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Other than your knees might be supporting your weight and you might grind stuff in. There are some really good summer weight EMS pants out there and Cops do their thing in long pants AND body armor, so... Anyway, My Vollie department requires that you wearing long sleaves or turn out jackets on EMS calls

When I was a fire chief in Texas and New Mexico we allowed our members to wear shorts. I am not aware of any NFPA standard or any other health regulation which requires us to wear full length pants. Sometimes this is simply a matter of convention based upon the beliefs of your chief officers. However Texas is one hot place in the summer and I think it's probably smarter to wear more comfortable clothing there's a good study that just came out of the University of Indiana "Physiological Stresses of Structural Firefighting and Psychological Responses to General Emergency Call Work" you can contact Darrell Mendenhall at for more information. Good luck but in my opinion firefighters can look very good and very professional in shorts.
I am in Michigan, and when we (finally) get warm weather here, we are allowed to wear EMS shorts all day. We have no set dates that limit them, it's up to the individuals preference. The member will sometimes need to wear their bunker gear more often if they get into an unforeseen situation that requires pants, but even that is fairly rare for us. We run about 2,500 calls a year with between 4-6 personnel from one station, so we keep busy.
As Bobby says, it seems mostly to be a local opinion issue. I used to spend summers in Cocoa Beach FL, and I remember they were wearing long pants while I was wearing shorts at home...kinda funny.
Here in CT a few years ago my dept. negotiated shorts in as part of our uniform as an option during a time frame determined by the Chief and union executive board as the weather changes. We started with a 1 year trial then the union re-negotiated that single item for the duration of the contract. The safety committee from both the town and union were concerned with BBP exposures as well as the thought that regardless of fire or EMS incidents your station pants do offer you a thin small layer of protection (dependent on materials) on all incidents. It has now been 3 summers and we have not had any increase in our exposures or injuries. Our members utilize some "common sense" and must pay attention more and think about utilizing their bunker pants on some of the more exposure prone calls. But, those calls are not extremely common and the "comfort" of the members during the heat and humidity has a good effect on the members. Some members do choose not to wear shorts. But we have a uniformed force of approx 50 members and all but 2 or 3 wear the shorts as they have proved to be very appropriate. I also agree with Bobby that we utilize Blauer brand shorts which look good hold their color and have proved to be durable to the conditions that they are put through leaving our members looking professional in uniform shorts.

Stay safe and happy new year.
We wore shorts for yrs at my paid dept. in NC. If you had on shorts you put on bunker pants for medical calls. That was from the Chief and his reason for that was it didn't look professional for us to be running aropund in shorts. Then finally he cut them out all together. We dealt with wearing the bunker pants on calls but cutting our shorts out thats just wrong. Like the Chief said it was nice wearing something cool in the summer time, especially when you had a job in the heat.

I am in Bonita Springs Florida, its gets very hot here. We have been wearing shorts for 12 years. We wear them on all EMS calls and have no policy in place that prohibits this practice. This was somthing that was negociated by our union and at the time the our administration was against it as well.

Maybe you can make some headway at contract time?

We run about 4,500 EMS call per year and have not had any safety issues that I am aware of. In fact being overheated while treating a patient in the hot sun can be a safety issue.

Keep cool brother.
We allow our EMS crews to wear shorts Memorial Day to Columbus Day. This issue was worked out in labor-management and was not without controversy. Before this policy, we had always provided the crews with NFPA compliant BSI coasts, gloves, etc, etc. It has always been up to the crew to choose the most appropriate level of protection for the call. Most, myself included when I rode the bus, didn't wear our coats most of the time. They're like wearing a body bag in the summer months. But, we always carried them with us and if it was a messy call, they went on.

Now we introduced shorts, but didn't have BSI pants to toss on over the shorts for the messy calls, so we started with using the bunker pants. Of course taking them out of service for cleaning after getting blood on them happened too often. We don't have enough spare gear to outfit all. So now we have BSI pants that are like the coats. The crews are required to make good decisions about the use of all BSI/PPE or suffer with a management decision. So far we've needed only to warn a few people and the Union policies itself as they wan to wear shorts!

Personally I don't like the shorts. We work hard to keep a professional image and the shorts make us look like Pepsi delivery men. But, that's just me. Good luck, my advice is to convince the management to allow it, and convince your union brothers/sisters to make smart decisions about BSI use to continue to have these options. It works for us.
Hey Dustin, I too have worked in Texas (Dallas suburbs) my whole career. When we went to nomex wear this last year, I did away with the shorts. My reasons were that the nomex wear is pretty light weight (7 oz.), dries quickly, and does provide at least a minimal level of protection on body substances (pretty weak so far, huh?). The biggest reason for this change is that on MVC's, the EMS crew seldom responds with full PPE on upon arrival. With a significant scene, I also know the guys will only grab a coat and helmet at best. With full length nomex pants, their legs are protected from a flash fire (10-15 secs. max) should that occur. With any luck at all, the engine crew will have a line in place and provide the rest of the protection after the 10 seconds.
This was a huge change for our department yet one that I felt was worth battling over. We do wear our t-shirts, polo's, or nomex shirts whenever they choose (so long as a collared shirt is worn when on the medic, appearance reasons here) but they do have to wear full length nomex during the day.
During, and following, workouts the guys can wear their workout shorts (typical basketball length cotton shorts with pockets) for the remainder of the night. If they leave the station, they are to have bunker pants on over the shorts. This was the compromise offered and all have adjusted well. The medics usually switch back to nomex until bedtime (when temps cool down some) when the bunkers seem to be worn by all.
And, as Chief Halton stated, guys can look professional in anything that we equip them with as long as they take care of themselves and stay fit. Basketball shorts and t-shirts look good as long as they are the ones that we issued them; that is what makes it "uniform".
Dustin I am also unaware of any standards or increased health risks, here in Arizona we were shorts 365 days a year and our engine companies’ do EMS runs and ride into the hospital with our transport provider. We do issue our members Wildland pants from Barrier Wear Style 4070PX 7.5 o.z. Nomex and we allow them to wear them on EMS runs for added protection. As I am sure, you are aware our summers here are equally hot. In my opinion there is no more danger, just sounds like you might need to help institute a culture change on your department heads, it sounds as though it is one of those "because we always have done it" types of things.

Good luck.
As a Chief and OH&S Officer, i would say the concern of your department may be that you may become exposed to injury or hazards when kneeling at an incident. I agree with Chief Halton, the right shorts look professional on "most" emergency workers and much more comfortable. It could be worse...i have to wear a tie everyday :)

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