There are instances where firefighters need to wear formal attire. In this case, they will wear dress uniforms that distinguish formal events from standard workdays.
Firefighters usually wear dress uniforms during occasions like medal ceremonies, memorials, parades, funerals, and local presentations.
Along with the dress uniform, firefighters are expected to look their best and behave properly.
Dress uniforms will differ with each wearer’s position and the time of day. We’ll cover firefighters' dress uniforms in more detail below, including the different types of uniforms and the etiquette around how they should be worn.
More About Fire Dress Uniforms
Firefighters don’t wear their dress uniforms at all events. Their department’s administration will assess whether the uniform is appropriate for their event, so there may be instances where they aren’t required.
Nevertheless, there are some events where a dress uniform is always necessary. These include parades and funerals where formal dress is compulsory.
They may be worn during holidays, such as Independence Day, or other events authorized by the fire department and council.
During other instances, the fire department’s administration department may give each firefighter particular directions on their attire.
What Are Class A Uniforms?
You may have heard of Class A uniforms before, but this is just another term for a firefighters dress uniform.
The letter A in Class A stands for ‘alpha’. The term to describe the uniform will differ in various countries and locations.
Class A uniforms signify pride, respect, and integrity for every firefighter. The attire allows firefighters to show their position, insignias, pins, and in some cases, their years of service.
Name tags, awards, and badges will be worn and displayed on the chest of the uniform.
The standards for a firefighter’s dress uniform resemble ones used in the military. These principles and particulars can differ around the world and between different departments.
A dress uniform will include the following items:
Approved white or blue uniform cap with emblem
Navy uniform jacket with award ribbons and symbol of position
Name tag and badge in corresponding color (gold for chief officers, silver for other posts)
Long-sleeved white shirt
Necktie for men, continental crossover tie for women, all in black
Navy dress trousers
Black belt with regulation buckle
Plain calf-length socks in black
Oxford shoes or black dress boots, black high shine with matching laces
The uniform also has a winter dress, where a navy overcoat is worn over the attire. The wearer can also choose to wear black gloves or a navy or black scarf.
Ranks are very significant as they indicate where a firefighter’s role is in their department. Firefighters become promoted through passing exams and interviews with their chief.
When a firefighter reaches lieutenant level, they will have a gold braid added to their jacket, though this can be silver in other countries, and is designed to stick out when worn with the dark jacket.
The emblem portrays class and honor from other firefighters and members of the public.
Once the firefighter passes lieutenant rank, they can reach other ranks, including captain, battalion commander, assistant chief, and fire chief.
These will have increasing gold stripes added to their uniform as they rise through the ranks.
They may also wear a flag pin on top of their dress uniform stripes.
Dress Uniform Etiquette
A dress uniform goes beyond special-event attire. It represents a code of conduct from each firefighter's department.
How and when a firefighter wears their uniform also reflects on others from their division.
All firefighters are required to keep a well-groomed appearance when they wear their dress uniform.
Both men and women should have a neat hairstyle. Men aren’t allowed to have facial hair unless they have a mustache that’s previously approved.
Women aren’t able to have hairstyles that affect how the uniform’s cap sits. Hair isn’t allowed to touch the lower part of their shirt collar.
All firefighters need to display respect, courtesy, professionalism, and pride when they wear their dress uniform. They also need to behave with respect towards the department and members of the public.
As a firefighter's medals and personal achievements are symbolized on a uniform, the wearer needs to act with care towards the uniform. This includes:
Keeping the uniform pressed and clean
Maintaining polished and clean boots
Wearing the complete uniform, with all nametags, pins, ribbon bars, and medals.
Different Types Of Fire Uniforms
Other than Class A dress uniforms, firefighters may wear other types of uniforms during different occasions.
Class B uniforms are worn during events where one needs to look presentable, but not as formal as with a Class A uniform.
Scenarios include school presentations, standard dinners with their division, or public fire station presentations.
A Class B uniform will need duty boots, navy or black slacks, black tie, brass and emblem, and a long-sleeve or short sleeve button up shirt (blue for lower positions, white for chiefs),
Class D uniforms are department attire that’s worn during exercise, after work, and around the station. The clothes are much more casual compared to Class B and A attire.
Class D uniforms consist of casual sneakers, department issued navy t-shirt and navy sweatpants (or shorts). The wearer may also wear a department issued sweatshirt.
The Bottom Line
Firefighters are required to wear dress uniforms for special events and formal occasions. These include funerals, parades, memorial ceremonies, medal services, and significant holidays like Independence Day.
The dress attire will differ with each firefighter's position, department, personal embellishments, and years of service.
Dress uniforms display power, honor and respect among other firefighters and members of the public.
Other than clothes, dress uniform wearers need to behave appropriately and maintain their uniform. Hair must be regulation length, boots need to be shined, and belt buckles must meet regulation standards.
Firefighters also wear Class B and D uniforms which are different from Class A, dress uniforms.
Class B attire is worn when the firefighter needs to look respectable, but the event won’t be as dressy or formal as with a Class A uniform.
Class D uniforms are the most casual and are worn during exercise, around the department, and after work.