Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Boxer Short Firemen

A Canadian city under pressure for alleged sexual harassment within its fire department has ordered firefighters to wear only boxer-style underwear.

Richmond, British Columbia will spend C$16,000 to buy six pairs of underwear for each firefighter in a bid to make firehalls in the suburb of Vancouver more gender neutral, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

"We supply firefighters with various pieces of gear such as gloves, now it's underwear," city official Ted Townsend told the Vancouver Sun, saying it was part of the "integration of the sexes in the workplace".

A recent investigation of the department described its workplace culture as "characterised by juvenile and hostile behaviour" toward female firefighters by their male colleagues.

Firefighters strip off most of their clothes in order to don protective gear when responding to fire alarms, although Townsend said the city is considering buying gear that can be put on over regular uniforms.

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