OPINION: Back off the beard bashing - let Ken do his job
THERE are times as a journalist when it's mighty hard to remain objective.
This week I encountered one of those prickly situations - a bureaucratic beard ban.
Veteran Miles firefighter Ken Brown has sported a beard for more than 15 years and has been a member of the auxiliary fire crew for 18 years.
Throughout his career there has been a rule that prevented officers from growing beards, as the top brass believed they could interfere with members' breathing apparatus (BA).
This week, they decided to enforce that rule.
But over the past 18 years Ken has saved too many lives to count.
He's served with courage, with bravery, and with a beard.
Ken is a proud bloke who is also proud of his beard.
That's why the ultimatum he was given this week - shave, work in the office, or quit - was always going to end up with him stepping down.
And I'm standing with him.
As many of you know, I have been sporting a beautiful (I wish), large (not really) and red (bright red, unfortunately) patch of facial foliage since 2011.While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, I connect with Ken's statement that it's "part of his DNA".
If he is willing and able to save people's lives, then let him do that, but let him keep the beard as well.
It's a matter of rotating jobs at the scene of the emergency so he is not the one in situations where he needs to wear a BA, if that's what the rules dictate.
I grew my beard after being hounded by a former editor to "stand closer to the razor" on the off-days I didn't shave.
I haven't shaved since the day I walked away from that newsroom.
Ken, stick to your guns, mate.
And remember, the only time you're not growing a beard is when you're shaving.