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ASL: "firefighter"



There is quite a bit of variation in the Deaf community regarding the sign for FIREMAN but most versions seem to be based on the cool hats.
ASL instructors need cool hats.  I'm jealous.
Notes:  For more information on this sign and variations, see: FIREFIGHTER-[advanced]

FIREFIGHTER / fireman, firewoman
Memory aid: Think of the big red hats that firemen (sometimes) wear.
This sign uses a slight double motion.  Tap the back of the hand on your forehead. (Keep in mind that there are other legit versions of this sign)




Notes:  For more information on this sign and variations, see: FIREFIGHTER-[advanced]

There is no doubt that the palm-forward B-hand on the forehead sign is legit and shows up on the hands of many (but not all) Deaf signers.

What is fascinating to me though is that a number of actual Deaf firefighters rarely use the forehead-based sign for "firefighter" and instead just sign "FIRE + FIGHT" to mean "firefighter." Additionally of the four Deaf firefighter interviews I reviewed -- none of them were inclined to use the forehead based sign. This may have to do with the fact that "real" firefighters often wear headgear and thus doing the sign firefighter on their own forehead would mean whacking their headgear.  

Thus I feel rather confident stating that "one" of the versions of how to sign firefighter is most definitely "FIRE" + "FIGHT."

If you were to need to sign something to the effect of: "Firefighters fight fires" then, sure, it is nice to have a specific sign for the profession of "firefighter."

However that doesn't make signing "FIRE" + "FIGHT" wrong as a way to sign firefighter (in context). I point this out here because I know there are ASL teachers who may read this and I want them to put into their brain that the sign FIRE+FIGHT is a legit and acceptable way to sign "firefighter" -- as decided by Deaf Firefighters themselves and used in interviews broadcast widely to Deaf audiences via multiple major Deaf news sources.

I will be recording the sign FIRE+FIGHT and labeling it as firefighter and adding it as a version to the Lifeprint site and the "Signs" Youtube channel video database.

Scott Hornbeck, Deaf, signer, comes from a family of firefighters, and has served for over 20 years as a volunteer firefighter in Accord, NY frequently / repeatedly refers to the terms "firefighter" and "fire fighting" by signing "FIRE FIGHT." (He rarely if ever signs the forehead version of firefighter.)
Source: Deaf 1 News (May 26, 2010) "Scott Hornbeck, Deaf Volunteer Firefighter" at: 

Mark Kite Sr., Deaf, signer, has been fighting fires since age 16. He became Fire Chief in Yukon, PA in 2009.  Mark consistently signs FIRE FIGHT when referring to being a firefighter. He signs "fire chief" by using the signs FIRE and BOSS.  When signing "firefighter" on first reference he did the sign FIGHT using a double movement. He signs fire department by using the FIRE sign and the circular DEPARTMENT sign.  On first reference he spells "smoke detector" and then expands with ALARM and a two-handed palms-facing sign held around head high that can mean lights flashing  and/or alarms-BLARING.  Not once in a four minute interview about firefighting did Mark sign the FIREFIGHTER-[forehead version] sign.
Source: DPANVideos (May 10, 2019) "Real People: Deaf Firefighter Chief" at

Matt Gilmore, Deaf, signer, is a state certified volunteer firefighter and ambulance driver with the Parkertown Fire Department in Little Egg Harbor Township, NJ.  Matt consistently signs FIRE FIGHT to mean "firefighter."
Source: The Daily Moth (March 22, 2017) "Meet Matt Gilmore, a Deaf Firefighter" at  (time code: 11:15)

Also of interest: Source: The Daily Moth (Apr 16, 2020) "Deaf First Responders' Experience with COVID-19" at:

Chat Grabousky, Deaf, signer, is a firefighter / EMT at "Linglestown Fire Company No. 1" in Linglestown, PA
Source: The Daily Moth (Apr 16, 2020) "Deaf First Responders' Experience with COVID-19" at:


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