Orange County Fire & Rescue chief fired over refusal to discipline employees who bucked COVID-19 vaccine mandate

An Orange County Fire & Rescue battalion chief was fired for refusing to discipline firefighters who refused to get vaccinated.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Chief Stephen Davis was terminated by the department over insubordination. As Orange County employees, all OCFR members were required to begin the process of getting vaccinated by the end of September. Davis refused to discipline his employees who bucked the mandate and was fired.

OCFR spokesperson Lisa McDonald said Davis “was terminated on the grounds of failure to follow a direct order."

Davis' attorney Rachel Rodriguez said her client was trying to protect his firefighters, who were either in the process of getting an exemption or incorrectly included on the list of unvaccinated employees.

"He said, ‘There are individuals here that I know have been trying to apply for religious exemption and/or he saw individuals there who had been vaccinated,’" Rodriguez told Fox 35.

Orange County firefighters have been a locus of pushback against the county's vaccine mandate for employees. Dozens of them are suing the county over the requirement. At the same time, the state government has threatened heavy fines for Orange County, with the hammer already dropping on other municipalities in Florida. Mayor Jerry Demings was unmoved.

"We are on firm legal ground with this vaccine mandate that we have put in place," he said, during a recent press conference. "I believe the law cited by Doug Woodlief of the Florida Department of Health is arbitrary, capricious, overbroad and dangerously inhibits local governments from protecting its citizens. I want Orange County residents to know that I will continue to fight to protect them."

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