Right now, female firefighters with the Cincinnati Fire Department are wearing uniforms designed for men. The department is working to change that.
Assistant Chief Anson Turley told City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee Monday a master contract with the department's uniform provider expires in December 2020.
"So within a year, hopefully this will be a non-issue," Turley said. "That will have a complete set of uniform specifications that are tailored to meet the needs of our female firefighters."
He said nationally, female firefighters make up a small percentage of departments, and vendors haven't seen them as a viable section of the market. But he said the good news is that's changing.
Turley said the process will start with meeting with female firefighters about problems with the current uniforms.
"One significant problem we have is in their station, where their fatigue wear that they wear every day, that only a men's shirt is available, and then they have to take that shirt and they have to cut it down. In order for them to wear it, it has to be tailored," Turley said. "Well, part of our new spec will be requiring whoever is going to be our vendor in the future, to come up with a female specification for fatigue shirts. Not only that, but for dress uniforms as well."
The department will use those conversations with female firefighters to develop specifications for new uniforms. A joint committee between the department and the firefighters union to develop final specs and issue a request for proposals from vendors.
Council Member Amy Murray said she's concerned about waiting until December 2020 to address the issue.
"I have to imagine that there are vendors out, or we start pushing them that we can make choices as people are getting new uniforms in the next 12 to 18 months," Murray said. "Because I'd like to see that happen sooner, especially things that they're wearing all the time, 24/7, when they're on duty."
The department is expected to address the uniform issue again in January.