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Florida fire rescue battalion chief fired for not disciplining unvaccinated workers

Orange County employees were required to show proof they received the one-dose vaccine or the first shot of the two-dose vaccines.

ORLANDO, Fla. — A fire chief in Florida has been fired for not disciplining employees who refused to follow Orange County's mandate that all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Lisa McDonald says Orange County Fire Rescue battalion chief Stephen Davis was fired Tuesday for failing to follow a direct order. 

A union member told WFTV that Davis didn't discipline the firefighters because some had already been vaccinated, and others had applied for religious exemptions on time, according to the Associated Press.

“He didn’t do what he was asked to do because he realized some people on the spreadsheet that he received were fully vaccinated and had religious exemptions at the time and he knew it was unlawful and violating state law,” firefighter Jason Wheat told the Orlando television station, AP reports.

Orange County employees were required to show proof they received either the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the first dose of the double-shot Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines by the end of September, AP explains. Employees must be fully vaccinated by the end of October unless "they request a religious or medical exemption, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Almost four dozen Fire Rescue employees, including Davis, who don't want to be vaccinated have sued the county, calling the mandate “unlawful, unconstitutional and highly invasive,” WFTV reports.

Davis had been with the fire department since 2007, AP said.

All around the country, employees are being fired for not showing proof of vaccination.

The state fired 127 Washington State Patrol (WSP) employees, about 5% of the department, for failing to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Gov. Jay Inslee's Oct. 18 deadline. 

Of that group, 74 were commissioned officers including 67 troopers, six sergeants, and one captain. The remaining employees worked in civilian positions such as dispatchers, administrators, and instructors.