Can you be a Firefighter with Tattoos, Piercings or Facial Hair?

Many of you might be wondering can you be a Firefighter with tattoos, piercings and facial hair? These are increasingly common things to have, particularly with younger applicants. You’ll probably be aware that the rules surrounding these have been significantly relaxed in many other areas of employment.

In short the answer is yes to being a firefighter with tattoos and piercings (with restrictions). And no to the facial hair! But it’s a small sacrifice to make for the chance of fulfilling your dream of a firefighter career.


Tattoos are acceptable for all sexes as long as they are in no way offensive. This would include tattoos with imagery or text that could be considered:

  • Rude (including profanity or nudity)
  • Racist
  • Sexist
  • Sectarian
  • Homophobic
  • Transphobic

It’s at the discretion of the FRS you’re applying to whether your tattoos are acceptable or not. Remember as a firefighter you’ll be working with the public and in the community, as a representative of your area fire service.


Under Health and Safety, you will not be allowed to wear body piercings whilst being on operational duty. This includes ones that may be hidden by your clothing.

Firefighting is a physical role. There’s the risk that your piercings could get caught and cause you industry while you’re in PPE. This is especially important for facial piercings, which could interfere with breathing apparatus or protective headgear.

For the time you’ll be on a shift, you will be able to confidently remove and replace your piercings without the fear of them closing up. We’d recommend you remove them during the recruitment and assessment process too (you’ll have to for the physical testing in any case). This is particularly important in the interview or Assessment Centre to show a good impression!

Facial Hair (and Long Hair!)

Long hair and dreadlocks (including braids, cornrows, plaits etc.) is acceptable for all Firefighters. However, like any employee’s hair, it needs to be kept tidy and not interfere with your PPE.

Facial hair (like beards and sideburns) affect the seal on  Respiratory Protection Equipment (RPE). This includes BA and face masks. Therefore all operational staff must be clean shaven, to guarantee a complete and safe face seal.

If you have facial hair for medical or religious reasons, this may be looked into by the FRS you’re applying to.  Reasonable adjustments will be considered at their discretion.

Take a look at our collection of Selection articles in our blog to find out more about the requirements for applying for a Firefighter role, and read our tips and advice for getting through the challenges of the selection process!

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FRS Team

Our team of experts have the many years of Fire Service experience and are up to date with the latest selection news.

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    1. Hi Steven – It depends on which area you’re applying to. Some areas will let you apply when you’re almost 18, as long as you’ll be 18 by the time you begin your training. Others stipulate you must be over 18 to apply. Where are you looking to apply?

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