UA firefighters facing hairy situation
Men grow mustaches for 'Movember' campaign for cancer awareness, fundraising
Upper Arlington firefighters from Stations 71 and 72 are growing mustaches this month while participating in Movember, a national men's health awareness program. Displaying their hirsute pursuits -- and the department's new ladder truck -- are (front row, from left) Anthony Ferrero, Lt. Jim Mild, Battalion Chief Jerry Moore, Mike McCusker, Adam Gabriel, Brian Brown, Alan Thompson, Tom Holbein and Josh Moore. On the truck is Joe Smith. Buy This Photo
Some 25 Upper Arlington firefighters have kept stiff -- and hairy -- upper lips this month in their quest to promote men's health and battle cancers that affect men.
Throughout November, things have gotten shaggier around Upper Arlington fire stations as more than two dozen firefighters have cultivated mustaches.
It's not a case of Upper Arlington Fire Chief Jeff Young getting lax on enforcing the rules, and there's no superstition at play related to facial hair and fire safety.
The unkempt faces actually are an organized effort by local firefighters to participate in and support the national "Movember" movement, which seeks to raise money and awareness to combat men's cancer issues, particularly prostate and testicular cancer.
"There are a lot of ugly mustaches out there," Upper Arlington Fire Division Lt. Jim Mild said. "We've been laughing at each other the whole time.
"The overall cause is tough, but we're all in good spirits."
This is the second year UA firefighters have participated in the Movember movement, which each November encourages men throughout the world to grow mustaches during to raise awareness about men's health. As was the case last year, the local firefighters came to work clean shaven on Nov. 1, but they surrendered their razors for the remainder of the month.
According to UAFD Public Information Officer Dan Kochensparger, participants are known as "Mo Bros," and they "groom, trim and wax their ways into the annals of fine mustachery."
He added the men are supported by the women in their lives, "Mo Sistas," who put up with the whiskers and help champion the fundraising component of Movember by helping to promote men's health awareness and raise funds for cancer research.
As of Nov. 21, the local firefighters had raised $370 through direct donations. They also noted people can contribute year-round to the fight prostate and testicular cancer by making donations online at movember.com, livestrong.org or PCF.org.
"Our main focus is to raise funds for prostate and testicular cancer and to raise awareness about them," Mild said.
He said he and his colleagues got involved in Movember because nearly everyone in the division has been affected by cancer in one way or another.
"We have team members that are cancer survivors themselves," he said. "My father is a cancer survivor."
Additionally, Mild said firefighters are predisposed to developing cancer because of their work environment.
"There's numerous studies that show firefighters have a much higher rate of prostate and testicular cancer because of all the carcinogens we're exposed to fighting fires," he said. "People in general, especially firefighters, need to get themselves checked annually. They also need to be very aware of washing themselves after fires and decontaminating.
"Taking these steps to prevent these cancers and the annual exams are important," he said. "Early detection is key to surviving testicular and prostate cancer."
According to Kochensparger, the international Movember campaign involved more than 854,000 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas and raised more than $126.3 million in U.S. dollars in 2011 alone.
In addition to learning more about men's health themselves and educating others, Mild said the annual campaign is a lot of fun - at least for the firefighters.
"There's different styles and some of the guys supposedly have different names for (their mustaches)," he said. "Some have come in pretty patchy.
"My wife's 25th high school reunion is right after November and I'm still going to have my mustache for that. She's not real happy about that, but it's all for a good cause."