The locale for this sad story is Hernando County, Florida.

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 4.33.43 PMThe centerpiece are two very different men: First, the new battalion chief for the for the Hernando County Department of Fire Rescue, Patrick Taylor, who has a long history of firefighting service. The second is Mustached American Ed Sardegna, a twenty year veteran with the HCFD and a proud owner/operator of said noteworthy lip collar.

While most would expect these two gentlemen to view one another as colleagues in civic service, the contrary is the current reality. And the sordid reason for this is simple: Chief Taylor discriminates. More directly, he does not believe in, approve of, nor respect Sardegna’s Mustached American lifestyle.

Sardegna donned the classic fireman’s Fu Man Chu style for nearly twenty years, and had grown to self-identify with the iconic image of rugged handsomeness. This look, however, was the first to fall out of favor under Taylor’s leadership, quickly falling outside the limit of “acceptable facial hair.”

However, with steeled reserve, the power of laser cocksmanship, and a silent prayer for the forthcoming maiming of an angel, Sardegna did what he had to do to comply — he shaved the lower half of his beloved lower nose forestry unit.

It is important to note that often, especially with members of the firefighting community, hair maintenance is more than a style preference but a matter of personal safety. In fact, there is U.S. Supreme Court case law surrounding the safety of facial hair and the oxygen masks firefighters wear. This is not unreasonable.

However, Sardegna had never fallen out of the long-accepted compliant-length adopted for years before these revisions. After altering his Fu, Sardegna committed to growing a new style, also within compliance of the new standards, and adopted a handlebar mustache — with handsome results.

Yet, exhibiting all the classic signs of an anti-mustite, Chief Taylor was quick to revamp his all out war upon the Mustached American lifestyle, offering version 2.0 of acceptable grooming, once again seeming to single out Sardegna’s choice of mustachery, as well as threatening him with “direct disobedience” should he show up to work without massive physical alterations being made to his facial area.

Our noble brother, Ed Sardegna, has reached out to the American Mustache Institute and the Mustached American community at large. He hopes to bring his plight out of the shadows, battle the day-in and day-out workplace harassment he has endured for identifying with the lifestyle of our people.

We call on Battalion Chief Patrick Taylor to do the right thing — hit pause on these rash actions and engage in a dialogue. There’s no reason to shove these changes down your men’s throats. Their obscenely handsome looks will in now way endanger themselves or their community.

We ask that you send your support for Sardegna to Hernando County Fire Chief/Director Scott Hechler via email at SHechler@co.hernando.fl.us.

You’re welcome.