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Florida fire chief: I was fired for refusing to enforce ‘unlawful’ vaccine mandate

A Florida fire chief said on Friday that he was fired for refusing to enforce a vaccine mandate he believes is “unlawful.”

“I was terminated a few days ago. I was trying to tell them that what they were doing – I was supposed to write people up –it was unlawful is essentially what happened,” former Orange County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Davis told “Fox & Friends.”

FOX 13 Tampa Bay reported that Davis was fired after officials said that he failed to follow a direct order.

Stephen Davis had been with the department since 2007 and had command of around 55 to 60 employees within OCFR as battalion chief. Davis’s attorney Rachel Rodriguez claimed that Davis got a list of names of employees earlier this month to be written up for not getting the shot. 

Davis told host Brian Kilmeade that he was “fired because he wouldn’t write people up who had religious exemptions.” 

“I said we have people on this list who should not be getting written reprimands because they are vaccinated. There are also people on this list who have applied for religious exemptions that should not be getting written reprimands and, yet, they were. When I challenged those things, they told me here is a direct order, you will do it. I said well this is unlawful and we can’t could this. So this is where we are sitting now and several weeks later I was terminated,” he explained.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said employees who refuse to get the shot could lose their jobs and he later decided to just issue reprimands. 

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Appearing with Davis, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said “political leaders are making policy decisions based on political optics with no regard for what it means for rank-and-file employees and the management of their communities.”

Moody stressed that the vaccine mandate will be “devastating” to staffing in public safety institutions. 

“You will see vacancies in public safety ranks that will have a direct effect on communities,” Moody said. 

Moody concluded that the vaccine mandate is unlawful in the state of Florida.

Earlier Friday, Orange County firefighter Jason Wheat joined “Fox & Friends First” to defend Battalion Chief Davis. Wheat said Davis was “standing up” for what his colleagues believed in.

“Chief Davis is a great guy. He is a lieutenant and battalion chief. I knew from the beginning he would be a great leader and he has shown that. The battalion chiefs in Orange County … this is a devastating loss to them,” he said.

President Biden on Thursday said police officers and first responders who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine should stay home and be fired.

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Speaking during a presidential CNN town hall, moderator Anderson Cooper noted that as many as one in three emergency responders in some major cities are refusing to comply with city vaccine mandates.

“Yes and yes,” Biden replied, going on to suggest that he implemented his controversial vaccine mandate only as a last resort.

In July, Biden announced businesses with more than 100 employees will be required to mandate coronavirus vaccines or administer weekly tests. Employers are also required to pay employees for time off to get vaccinated and recover from side effects.

Fox News’ Jon Brown contributed to this report.

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