Anger, confusion and concern erupted during a Thursday evening meeting of the Eastside Fire and Rescue’s board of directors as firefighters who lost their jobs over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate joined a roomful of supporters to speak out during public comment and demand that accommodations be granted.
The former firefighters said public safety is at stake because of the staffing cuts as they vowed to mount a legal challenge to win back their jobs. According to officials, 14 veteran firefighters were let go because they refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Other counties in Western Washington still employ unvaccinated firefighters and the fired workers said Eastside Fire and Rescue should do the same.
Following the governor's vaccine mandate for all health care workers, Chief Jeff Clark placed all unvaccinated employees on leave in October. A total of 14 ended up being fired even though many applied for religious exemptions or other accommodations.