Firefighter Uniform Standards Get Personal

October 27, 2006 ( - The Richmond, British Columbia fire department has barred its men and women frontline firefighters from wearing their own underwear, requiring instead more gender neutral skivvies in an effort to quell sexual harassment complaints.

The mandatory standard underwear will come at a price tag of $16,000 to the city of Richmond, which has agreed to provide six pairs of the Stanfield boxers to each of the city’s 215 active firefighters, according to the Toronto Star.

The move by the department was an effort to neutralize the situation when firefighters must remove their clothes before suiting up after a call comes in, the Star reported. The firefighters strip in a common area and the standardized underwear idea came “from a sense in the department” that this was the best approach to the issue, said city official Ted Townsend, according to newspaper.

The decision by the city comes after four female firefighters said they were sexually harassed and harassed in other ways by their male colleagues. One female is suing the city.