NJ Firefighters Told They Can’t Wear Pink T-Shirts In Public For Breast Cancer Awareness Month

WEEHAWKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Some firefighters in New Jersey have been caught in a firestorm of controversy over a Breast Cancer Awareness campaign T-shirt.

The North Hudson regional firefighters purchased pink T-shirts they intended to wear to participate in this month’s national Pink for a Cure campaign and sell hoping to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon with Tim Colacci

According to Tim Colacci, the vice president of the North Hudson Firefighters Association, the pink shirts were a hit with the public.

“People that were walking past the firehouse while the men were doing their check of the fire truck outside [said], ‘Oh, you know, that’s great you guys are doing that. Is there anywhere we can buy them?’” Colacci said.

Their bosses, however, said if the firefighters wore the pink T-shirts in public while on duty and walked off firehouse grounds, they’d be disciplined.

“It’s a little disappointing to the members,” Colacci said. “Quite a few of our members have had to deal with breast cancer in the family.”

North Hudson Firefighters can only wear pink shirts as undergarments. The President of the North Hudson Firefighters Association said the restriction would defeat their purpose.

“The whole concept is visibility and if we’re mandated that we have to wear a shirt over the pink t-shirt, it kind of defeats the whole awareness concept for October for cancer,” Dominick Marino told CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock.

The department’s director told the Jersey Journal the firefighters can’t alter the uniform and must maintain a professional image.

“You’re watching TV and you see all the NFL players wearing pink; I don’t think they look unprofessional,” Collaci said. “I think they’re doing a great job; they’re doing their part for commitment.”

20111001 pink tshirts NJ Firefighters Told They Cant Wear Pink T Shirts In Public For Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Pink shirts ordered by North Hudson firefighters for Breast Cancer Awareness month (credit: North Hudson Firefighters Association)

Colacci claims the pink T-shirts had only a slight variation from their regulation blue T-shirts.

“It has the basic Maltese cross on the front and in the back it says North Hudson FD,” Colacci said. “That is an existing shirt that was blue with white lettering. All we did was change the blue to pink. We were under the impression it was approved.”

Despite the controversy, Colacci said he’s glad they have been able to raise about $2,500 for the cause.

Do you think the firefighters should be allowed to wear the shirts in public? Let us know below…

  • Tax Relief please.

    I fully support the Volunteer Firefighters and am suprised that their leaders are making a big thing out of this.What, thay are paid? Why would that area have a paid Fire Department? Taxes must be through the roof, no wonder that area has such high taxes.I figure they were volunteers when I saw how large some of them were, if they’re paid they better get to the gym a little more often Too many big meals at the Firehouse for some of them. Don’t they worry that their lack of fitness could get someone, or themselves hurt.



    • Karen

      Jeez, let’s calm it down a bit here….

  • Confused??

    The Firefighters have several different tshirts that are approved for wear while on duty. One of the approved shirts is the same exact design as the pink shirt, the only difference is is printed on a blue shirt. The blue version was sold as a fund raiser for a veterans group (I cant remember which one). There is also a T-Shirts for troops program that was started by a North Hudso Captain. These shirts are sold by the union and are not allowed to be worn on duty and no one wears them on duty but every NH Firefighter owns a few.

    How could wearing a pink t-shirt confuse the public? If the firefighter are responding to a call, any kind of call, they are wearing turnout coats and pants. The shirt is covered. If NH Firefighters are doing inspections, they must wear their department issued button down station wear. So as far as confusing the public, no will know they have the shirt on until they take their coat offafter the incident.

    Also anyone can buy, own or wear any of the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue “approved” t-shirts. Anyone can go buy, own or wear a set of turnout gear. So if someone wants to impersonate a firefighter they can, just like someone who impersonates a police officer. All it takes is a few minutes on the internet, you can even buy fire trucks if you want to go that far.

  • Tito

    This is a tempest in a teapot.

    • Maria

      In a country where the government wastes billions of tax money in foreign countries, and let the people become more and more poor, without health insurance die of cancer (1 of every 5 persons in USA will be receiving a diagnosis of cancer in his life time) find a cure is a priority. But the Government stop resources for research, stop or void treatments options, with big corporations overpricing cancer medications and treatments, and building barriers to find a real cure treatment, the only way to find a cure for cancer is looking for independent research out of Pharmaceutical corporations and corruptive politicians. When you or some one you know had suffered because of cancer you may understand better why all this expressions of support are important.

  • Des

    As I understand it, the fire fighters followed proper procedure in getting the shirts approved. They were honestly shocked by the restrictions imposed on them at the last minute. It is a good cause and everyone’s heart was in the right place. Breast cancer awareness has become such an identifiable cause that people would know what the shirts mean instantly – there would be no confusion for the public. No one would be hurt by allowing them to wear the shirts on duty. It is unfortunate that this issue is getting negative attention now. It clearly could have been avoided by some common sense decision making.

  • FormerFirefighter

    If the shirt is the same or otherwise closely approximates the blue t-shirt, then I think the upper management of the fire department needs to get a grip and accept that yes, guys CAN wear pink.

    If there are features (ie, nomex content which limits the ability of the shirt to burn) that do not exist in the pink shirt – then I can understand the concern, and hope the upper management of the fire department would work with the firefighters to obtain fire retardant pink shirts.

    When you realize that one in eight women in this country will be faced with breast cancer in their lifetime, I think it is commendable the firefighters took this step to help raise awareness!

  • kweil

    I don’t think it’s a bad idea as long as they wear it under their uniform. Businesses do have their dress codes that we have to abide by as long as we are working in that job. These men and women risk their lives for you and me every day and if they wish to wear it they should be allowed, again, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the uniform. After all, they are not asking to wear little pink hats with flowers all over them in place of their hats…

  • Eileen

    Seems stupid at first but perhaps they don’t want to set a precedent? Every month there is some kind of cancer or disease awareness thing going on – why is breast cancer more worthy than pancreatic cancer or lung cancer or heart disease or diabetes, etc etc

    • Shawn B.

      If they’re worried about precedent all they have to do is say that uniforms can only be altered for a month out of the year. Firefirighters can chose their cause and that’ll be that. This reeks of machismo to me. These guys are just trying to support a cause that’s actually affected some of the as this report claims. The big wigs need to lighten up.

  • Kathleen Maurin

    Come on people, cut these guys a little slack! The next time your house is on fire, who’s running in and who’s running out, huh???????????

  • bill Tanner

    I think it is stupid because when they want to raise money to support them the citizens of Hudson County are expected to support them. But remember this is Hudson County some of their bosses got their job for doing everything their Mayor wanted.

    • James Bronie

      The citizens of Hudson County was never asked or approached to purchase these shirts. This was an in house fund raiser. If the citizens of Hudson County wanted to purchase them they could but no one was asked, there were no door to door sales or any other kind of public solicitation. Many of the members bought multiple shirts for themselves as well as family members and friends. I do agree with you that sometimes asking the people of Hudson County to support other causes does get to be a bit much when some are barely getting by themselves.

      As far as how these “Bosses” got their jobs, you nailed it right on the head.

  • Media attention is what they want!

    I don’t get it, they already supported the cause by buying the Tee Shirts, or did they? Did any money from these Tee Shirts go to the Charity? If so, how much? I went to the Union Website and all they do is complain about firehouses being closed and lay-offs due to the financial problems we are all suffering from. It looks to me like they are just looking for a reason to complain and get mediua attention and using this tee shirt as their soap box. They make me sick and I think they are making a big thing out of nothing because they know it will work up the public. As a person who posted earlier wondered, are they wearing these tee shirts both on and off duty to draw attention to the cause, or are they just trying to skirt the work riles of the fire department. I agree that they are whiners and complainers in this situation.

    • Ann L.

      Ask people who are survivors or family of those who didn’t survive breast cancer. Thank G-d for firefighters–they don’t whine. It sounds like you do. I’m sure they want to draw attention to the cause as I do every year. My mom was a breast cancer survivor.

      • Whiners and their support.ers

        Ann, they went to the press with their complaint and did not handle it in house. That is worse than whining. They also could use a good diet, those fat bodies would never make it down a fully charged hallway and still be able to work.

    • 50/50 on this one

      The article says they raised about $2500 for the Susan B Kormen Fund. I would have thought it would be a lot more by the amount of attention it is getting. I don’t agree that they are using the issue as a soapbox, but I do agree that they doo seem to be complaining because they were told to wear their real uniforms.

      • Roger fireman

        OK pink shirts are out but can we still wear the pink thongs under our uniforms.

  • Suzanne McCulley

    I get that they have a “uniform code” BUT they are doing a great deal for a GREAT cause that hits most people ( including themselves) with at least one family member. Its about time that the Fire commissioners showed a little compassion for this cause and perhaps a few others that need the fund raising desperately. Especially since they are clearly hurting nothing, when they are out on a call they have a regulation fire coat on that covers the shirt. Bravo to the Firefighters for deciding to wear the shirts. I would LOVE to have one of them with the companies logo on it.

  • Psychology Major

    Studies show pink color is not agressive….and thus not right for fire fighters.

    • tim richards

      what about football players? you should change majors

  • Gina, Watertown, NY

    People, it is a freakin shirt…Leave it alone. Find something better to do and let these guys wear pink shirts and raise money to support the cause. I am sure some knucklehead somewhere is working on a new law to be put in place about wearing pink shirts during the month of October. There is always a way around it….Have all the spouses and children turn up on the weekends and wear the Pink shirts all day long. Cancer does not discriminate and these guys put their lives on the line on a daily basis. Keep up the good work.

  • p8nt

    So these men were trying to help support a good cause, which the FD has been known to do, and their supervisors say no??? Their supervisor needs to be hosed down for being stuck up.

  • Thers guys are not real firefighters.

    These Firefighters are an embarasment. Are they weraing these Tee Shirts 24/7 or just at work to get out of the minimal uniform requirement that they should be following. To go to the Media with their complaint is spineless and juvenile. It’s the standard “If I don’t get what I want, I will throw a Tantrum” Response that people who feel self entitled do when they don’t get their way. Go out and check some hydrants and conduct building inspections you crybaby whiners.

    • sid

      you are areal ASSHOLE

    • Kathleen Maurin

      Spineless? Seriously? When was the last time you peeled burnt skin off a dead body?

    • tim richards

      wow nice comment made towards guys trying to do a good thing, what is with all the anger? it’s not like they’re asking for a raise or to do something for themselves, it’s for BREAST CANCER AWARENESS!!!! you dope

      • Grow up little timmy.

        Hey Tim, why not make a comment about the article and leave other peoples comments alone. Why are you so angry that you call someone a dope because you don’t agree with their comment, You posted twice negatively on others comments. Get out of your parents basement or your Nort Hudson Firehouse and grow up and get a thought of your own.

        • aimee

          tim is out of his parents basement and puts his life on the line everyday…it is a good cause and who cares what color shirt they wear as long as they do their job. and they do it wondefully every day my husband is one of those firefighters and he wears the shirt at work not for attention but for a cause that he believes in..and more people should be like them

        • tim richards

          I posted that to see how juvenile you would become and you far exceeded my expectations. As far as the other posts go if you attack my brothers or hyself, I will go to bat for them until the end, I do not hide behind fake names or not post my name and take shots like the coward you are. Iif you think I’m little or would like to come visit, I will be working Sat 10-22-2011 at ladder 4 60th tyler place wny nj. And we can show you all we do, and we’ll even make you lunch.

  • Jim

    Here’s a little nugget of info about one of their bosses. One of the directors of NHRFR is battling colon cancer. Here’s a quote from a newspaper article, “co-director of North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue, says it’s a matter of maintaining a professional image”. Nice to nice a cancer survivor has a heart.

  • Randy

    I think that there bosses are a bunch of idiots for not letting the fire fights wear the pink shirts to show there support of a very important cause. I don’t see aproblem with them wear that shirt. Does it stop them from doing there job NO! It just shows there support to the cause.

  • Steven Patzkowski

    I think that is a awesome idea! It’s called FREEDOM OF SPEECH! If you are not required to wear a specific uniform then it should NOT be a problem to wear pink to support a cause. What if it was one of your family members that had/has cancer? Would you suport your family? I would hope so.

    • Jen K

      It is an awesome idea, and their bosses SHOULD allow it. However, if you read the article, you would know that they ARE required to wear a specific uniform. So unless the bosses decide otherwise, they are not allowed to change that uniform. Freedom of Speech does not apply here.

  • Mac

    I’m a Vol Firefighter and recently purchased a Pink Nomex hoodie and Auto Extrication Gloves to show support. Don’t see the big deal as long as they support the cause.

  • VY

    Just another boss with too much time on their hands and no brains to know what to do with it. These “bosses” are not just enforcing regulations, they are exercising their god given right to be idiots, which they are doing exceptionally well. Exercising smart judgement or intelligence is obviously a concept these bosses know nothing about.

  • Debbie Rieger TWFD

    What difference does the color make. I am a firefighter and my sister died of breast cancer and it is nice to participate in recognition of those who have had a diesease.

  • Sam

    I think their bosses need to get a grip. The firefighters are wearing these T shirts in support of a very good cause. Frankly who cares what color T shirts they are wearing, as long as there is nothing obscene, I don’t see a problem.

    • Lynn S. Wilhelm

      I’d like to add to these comments by expressing what had transpired this past Sunday, at football game that took place at Manchester High School located in Haledon, NJ. Our daughter, who is a “C” Squad cheerleader for the Manchester Jr. Falcons, which consists of 3rd and 4th grade girls who live in North Haledon, Haledon, and Prospect Park, NJ was told she was NOT allowed to cheer today because she was wearing pink colored “cheer” socks and pink symbol shoe laces. When we tried to reason with the coaches and explained that this is in direct violation of our civil rights as well as to have expressed that our daughter wants to show her support for the cause, we were still told that she could NOT participate in any cheering on Sunday. Needless to say, our daughter was extremely upset and started to cry and they still told her she cannot cheer. We think that this is very unfortunate, as well as very hurtful, and quite disturbing, not only because our daughter was singled out and made to feel that she was doing something wrong, but also that we cannot believe this organization that is supposed to support team spirit, self-confidence, friendship (to name a few characteristics) was NOT allowed to wear the color pink, especially during the month of October. We have reached out to the Manchester Jr. Falcons board, however we have not yet received a response. We also brought this matter to the attention of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

      • Abe

        The Constitution does not give your daughter or anyone else the right to wear unapproved garments. If you cannot accept it, leave.

        • Lynn S. Wilhelm

          Hi Abe,

          Although I appreciate your reply, please note that there isn’t ANY LAW written in ANY of our team literature which states what garments are approved vs. those that are not. That is why this situation is so terrible. Furthermore, how can adults who say that they are running this organization are doing it for the kids when they made a little girl cry! And for the record, we did leave! However, it is unfair for a child not to participate in an activity that she loves to do simply because she wore PINK in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. That is the issue and not that we “broke” any rules of the organization.

    • Rayzer

      I think it is a great idea and am very surprised that it is a problem. There is a good possibility that “their bosses” or may “boss” is homophobic and is threatened by the pink color on masculine men. OR. Having these particular men dressing in pink ruins some private fantasy for the person{s} “in control” or maybe not so “in control”.

    • julie

      For us it doesn’t have anything to do with the uniform, but rather that the money would go towards supporting the Susan G. Komen, which has yearly given a substantial donation to Planned Parenthood. My husband is a firefighter & we would not support that. MAlmost all studies that are performed show a strong correlation between abortion & breast cancer, not to mention the injury that is caused to women when abortion takes place. Money raised for breast cancer research & screening should go towards that, & unfortunately Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with research or screenings whatsoever. Do your research before you support. Firefighters/paramedics should be in place to help where they can & have the training to save lives, but to raise funds for an organization that contributes towards an entity that is largely in business to take the lives of our most helpless & innocent really seems to be a conflict of interest.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live