Los Angeles City has mandated that all City workers must be vaccinated by December 18 – if they are not, they may be placed on unpaid leave.
Circling the News spoke to L.A.F.D. Battalion Chief Joseph Everett on Saturday. He oversees about 50 firefighters in Battalion 9, which includes Fire Stations 23 and 69 in Pacific Palisades plus Stations 19, 26, 26, 37 and 71. Of those firefighters, only a handful still need to be vaccinated.
He said that emails were initially sent out to firefighters who had not complied with the vaccination mandate. As a follow-up, a hard copy of that email was then sent to those who still needed to comply.
According to reports, a firefighter working at Station 69 had been out for a time. When he came back in mid-November, it was rumored that he had planned to retire maybe as early as this coming March.
According to numerous reports, the firefighter allegedly used his hard copy of the Covid mandate as toilet paper, and threw the paper on the floor.
Within hours the firefighter had been placed on administrative leave and an investigation was launched.
LAFD released a statement: “The Department is aware of an incident where a member responded inappropriately to a hand-delivered letter to comply. The allegations are serious and deeply disturbing. We took swift action. The Department launched an internal investigation. The member immediately was placed on paid administrative leave and will face the consequences of any inappropriate acts. No matter how LAFD members react, all city employees must abide by the city ordinance – either file for an exemption, get vaccinated, or face termination.”
Everett told CTN that overall, there is almost an 80 percent vaccination compliance rate among firefighters.
Bureau Commander Deputy Chief Armando Hogan wrote in his October newsletter: “Vaccines in the US are highly effective, including against the Delta variant. . . . For all people, the vaccine provides the best protection against serious illness and death.”
Many residents may remember that before there were vaccinations — and many people were working in their homes and schools/stores were closed — firefighters were still responding to fires, traffic accidents and the homeless, which might be why so many of them contracted Covid.
During the Covid shutdown, CTN called 911 three times about unresponsive transients lying on the ground: one was across from the Post Office, and he was transported; one was at the bottom of Temescal at PCH (firefighters were able to rouse him, but he refused to go to the hospital) and a third was sleeping behind the restrooms near the playground at Temescal Park. Each time LAFD responded and worked with the person.
Station 69 Captain Tommy Kitahata, who was recently named City Firefighter of the Year, led the Covid Logistics team with testing and vaccination. During most of the Covid shutdown, the A-Shift Captain was working out of Dodger Stadium.
Everett was asked if this individual at Station 69 was being evaluated for other issues. Citing HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) privacy issues and an ongoing investigation, he couldn’t answer.
But, he told residents via CTN, “We’re going to respond to every call you throw at us. Know whether it is a brush fire, emergency medical call, a home fire or a traffic