In a cringy social media post, the Poughkeepsie Fire Department announced that one of its members will now have to wear a pink helmet.

Let me start by saying how much I respect firefighters. Our first responders put their lives on the line for us every day. Arriving at the scene of a disaster and running toward danger is a level of bravery that most of us can't even comprehend.

It's because I hold our local firefighters in such high regard that a recent announcement by the Poughkeepsie Fire Department is even more painful to see.

Poughkeepsie Firefighter Made to Wear Pink Helmet

The Poughkeepsie Fire Department gleefully announced on Wednesday that Lieutenant Ron Holder would spend the next month donning a custom pink helmet emblazoned with the word "loser" on it.

The posting explained that the helmet was a punishment for Holder losing the department's fantasy football league. The firefighter's record of 5-9 has been stitched into the helmet shield above the title of "Loser" along with "PFDFFL" which presumably stands for Poughkeepsie Fire Department fantasy football league.

While there's no doubt that the helmet and punishment were intended to be part of a fun competition amongst friends, the message it sends is disappointing.

City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department NY Local 596
City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department NY Local 596

Why is Wearing Pink a Punishment?

The fact that the department's fantasy football league loser has to wear a traditionally feminine-colored hat is cringy on so many different levels. Why the firefighters believe that being feminine is considered a "punishment" is something that I think needs to be explored a little further.

Commenters on the post teasingly describe the firefighter as "pretty", joke that the color looks good on him and encourage Holder to "wear it proudly". Others laughed at the punishment, calling it "harsh" and "hilarious".

Google Maps
Google Maps

A sample of women that I showed the post to all had similar reactions to the pink helmet. Shaking their heads and giving a painful wince, they agreed that the message they got from this was that these firemen believed that being a woman or feminine was something to be ridiculed. "Why is wearing a color that's meant to make someone look gay or like a woman considered a punishment?" one of them lamented.

It's unclear if any members of the Poughkeepsie Fire Department are gay, but I can only imagine how it would feel to see a bunch of men laughing and patting each other on the back because one of their own was made to look "like a girl" with a pink helmet.

The Poughkeepsie Fire Department Can Do Better

Many people reading this will probably criticize my opinion by calling me "too sensitive" or "woke" (whatever that means). But I believe the Poughkeepsie Fire Department has a duty to serve everyone in our community. If I were a gay man or a woman and I saw a bunch of alpha males giggling over forcing one of their members to wear a pink helmet it would certainly make me feel like I was viewed as "less than". And that's not the feeling you want to get from the people who are supposed to be looking out for you.

Google Maps
Google Maps

I'm certain that there was no harm intended with the fire department's little contest. It's most likely something that never even crossed their minds. But that's the point, isn't it? This "innocent joke" may seem funny in a locker room with a bunch of fraternity bros, but it plays much differently when presented to the entire community which includes people who are the butt of the joke.

If the Poughkeepsie Fire Department is going to use funds to create custom helmets, perhaps it would be more productive to order pink ones for all of their members to wear as a sign of support for women battling breast cancer, or maybe they could even order some rainbow shields to demonstrate to the LGBTQ+ community that they truly have their back.

Anything would be better than hazing one another by making them look like a "little girl".

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