Dori: ‘Raging inconsistencies’ among local fire departments’ vaccine policies

Apr 19, 2022, 5:30 PM | Updated: Apr 20, 2022, 6:16 am
(Flickr Creative Commons)...
(Flickr Creative Commons)
(Flickr Creative Commons)

As Eastside Fire and Rescue separates six firefighters for failure to adhere to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, a regional department to Eastside’s north is exploring how to bring employees back onto the department, previously on extended leave for non-compliance.

“Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue is exploring every avenue to bring those firefighters back into service. We are taking into consideration every aspect of the mandate so we can get them on board correctly. The Fire Chief has stated many times that SRFR wants to bring back each one of those members,” a statement from the Snohomish department reads.

Those previously unqualified employees refer to 13 firefighters placed on extended leave while they seek exemptions. While the Snohomish fire department has yet to actually bring back one of the employees, “upper management is actively trying to get these folks back in,” the spokesperson continued.

That decision throws in sharp relief Eastside’s commitment to terminating the six men and women on Monday.

Capt. Frank Dahlquist is one of those men.

Are you willing to share why you’re taking this stand? Dori asked the 15-year firefighter.

While avoiding the details that will ultimately be part of a planned legal argument, Dahlquist responded, “all I can say is that we have some strongly held religious beliefs and believe the vaccine isn’t for us.”

“This is not a political us vs. them,” Dahlquist said, adding that he is not anti-vaccine for all. “This is about being part of a community where we recognize diversity of thought, beliefs and cultures. Why are we not afforded that?”

After beating COVID last fall, Dahlquist said, he became part of a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center anti-body study. His blood is tested regularly to prove his natural immunity – which he calls “robust and long-term.”

Dori noted the raging inconsistencies between neighboring departments.

Dahlquist refused to blame any single elected leader or fire chief for this inconsistency – but did say ultimately, “fire departments in King County are kind of on this island.”

If denied a chance to return to the force, what are you and others going to do to pay the bills? Dori asked.

“A lot of us came from other trades. We have other technical skills,” Dahlquist said. “But it’s not the same. Ultimately, firefighting is a calling that we all sign up for to risk our lives for others.”

Hear Dori’s entire interview with King County Fire and Rescue Capt. Frank Dahlquist here:

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Dori: ‘Raging inconsistencies’ among local fire departments’ vaccine policies