Buffalo Grove fire chief talks mustaches, firehouse culture
Buffalo Grove- Buffalo Grove Fire Station approximately 20 Buffalo Grove firefighters grew mustaches for Movember. A hand-full gather to record the event. Approximately $1200 was raised in the process. From left Bill Wagner, Jim Hauber, Clark Pound, Chief Terry Vavra, Frank Doll, Charlie Kolder, Rich Schiradelly, John Jason. | For Sun-Times Media~Joe Cyganowski
Updated: December 12, 2012 8:28AM
BUFFALO GROVE — The Buffalo Grove Fire Department participated for the first time in Movember, the international campaign for men to grow mustaches to raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancer.
With about two dozen firefighters growing whiskers for funds, Team BGFD collected approximately $1,250 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Livestrong and other charities.
Chief Terry Vavra said the effort hit home in the Buffalo Grove firehouse: A member of the village’s Fire and Police Commission is battling stage-four prostate cancer, while others in the department are survivors of various forms of cancer.
Q: How did it feel to have a mustache?
A: It has been years. I looked at my wedding pictures — I had a mustache. I really don’t like it. It bothers me now. But, the cause was well worth the annoyance.
Q: What made it annoying?
A: It gets in my way. It itches. And, my wife doesn’t like it, so that doesn’t help any.
Q: What made you guys want to do it?
A: Something was brought to me by two of the guys. Dave Kelly and Jim Hauber saw something about it and said ‘Hey, do you want to do it?’ We just finished October, which is breast cancer awareness, so we followed that up. It just seemed to make sense. Several of our guys have been through it and diagnosed with some level of prostate cancer.
Q: How do you change the culture in a firehouse, or some other paramilitary unit?
A: That’s the $64,000 question. It really is. The solution is through stuff like what we’re doing. The more we talk about it, the more we face it, the more we’ll be able to end it. That’s the key here, we talk about it, because that’s probably the No. 1 problem for men, is that we don’t talk about it. We don’t express ourselves. We deal with other people’s problems all day long. This is all stuff that happens to other people, it doesn’t happen to us.
Q: What kind of pranks and ribbing have been going on around the station?
A: Nothing that is suitable for press. There’s been some issues of ‘Get me a microscope, I’d like to see that,’ or ‘Quit using the mascara.’ All in good fun. If nothing else, it’s a team-building effort. Everything we do, we rely on each other. When you can do something like this, you gain common ground.
Q: Who’s got the best mustache?
A: I don’t know. There are some pretty pathetic mustaches.
A: A couple of the new guys have really, really pathetic mustaches. Ryan McCarthy probably has the worst. And then you’ve got the blonde-haired guys, who constantly say ‘It’s coming in blonde,’ or ‘It’s clear.’ I’m probably going to have to buy Ryan ice cream for that.
Q: If you buy him vanilla, will it disappear into his mustache?
A: I’ll have to buy him chocolate.