The Los Angeles City Fire Department has prided itself on ensuring firefighters look professional while providing service to the citizens of Los Angeles. Over 15 years ago, the Department decided to develop a policy that required all members to cover their tattoos, branding, and/or scarification, regardless of where they were located on a member’s body. The idea was that displaying tattoos may be perceived by the public as unprofessional. In fact, the LAFD does not hire any new firefighters who may have tattoos that are not able to be covered by a bandage, skin patch, or long sleeve shirt.
The current LAFD Tattoo Policy states, "All sworn members, while on duty, shall not display any tattoos, scarification and/or brandings… and shall cover them by wearing a Department approved uniform or skin patch.” This requires LAFD members to wear long sleeve shirts at all times, regardless of the climate if members have tattoos on their arms.
Over the past decade tattoos, in general, have become more acceptable to the public. The number of LAFD members, and Firefighters entering the training academy who are required to cover their tattoos has also grown significantly since the implementation of the Tattoo Policy. Firefighters have noted several negative effects resulting from the policy such as, operational and response challenges, lack of acceptance and inclusion, and heat related issues.
Recently, the military changed their tattoo policy to allow different branches to display tattoos on any part of the body, excluding the head, neck and hands. Several other local agencies have adopted similar policies.
The LAFD is seeking input from the public to possibly revise the Department’s Tattoo Policy. Therefore, have placed a public survey on LAFD social media to gain the public's thoughts on the topic. All of the data will be collected, reviewed and will assist in any potential changes to our current policy. We value the public's view, and we thank them for sharing it with the LAFD.
To participate in the public survey, please visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/