Seattle firefighter union reports 5 members facing termination over vaccine mandate
A statement released by the Seattle Fire Fighters Union Local 27 indicates that five of its members are facing termination as a result of the vaccine mandate that took effect Monday. Another 73 who are also unvaccinated are waiting on word regarding exemption accommodations.
Those 73 union members have been removed from their assignments in the meantime, and will similarly face termination if the city opts not to provide accommodations.
The union’s statement went on to express its “hope that the city will manage the vaccine mandate process in good faith and carefully consider every one of the exemption requests that have been submitted by our members.”
“These Fire Fighters and Paramedics have given much and dedicated decades of their lives to public services in our city and we owe it to them and the people of Seattle,” it continued.
Earlier in the week, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan reported that roughly 93% of Seattle Fire Department employees are vaccinated, while 6% were granted exemptions. Fire Chief Harold Scoggins further expressed that he was “confident we’re going to be able to get a unit out the door and respond to the community’s needs,” despite losses driven by the vaccine mandate.
“I’m proud to lead the Seattle Fire Department,” Scoggins continued. “We have amazing people that serve the community each and every day. Every day we respond to between 250 and 260 calls. Our technical rescue team is one of the best in the nation. We have a lot of technical teams. We have a lot of talented people of our 1,000 firefighters.”
In a statement released Wednesday, the union described how it would work with the SFD “to fill the deep hole that will be created by the departure of these Fire Fighters and Paramedics.”
“However, with the significant number of critical emergency calls for help every single day, we know that their knowledge, skill, experience, and dedication cannot be easily replaced,” it added.
A report from the National Fire Protection Association found that a total of 140 firefighters in the United States died while on the job in 2020. That was twice the number reported in the previous year, largely driven by 78 deaths believed to be related to COVID-19 exposures in the line of duty. That was also the highest number of reported on-the-job firefighter deaths since 2001’s Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.