Demings responds to DeSantis challenge over fire battalion chief's termination: 'Bring it on'

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is going head-to-head with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over vaccine mandates.

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On Thursday, Oct. 21 Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings responded to Gov. Ron DeSantis after the governor weighed in on the firing of former Orange County Fire Rescue battalion chief over vaccine reprimand concerns.

Stephen Davis lost his job Tuesday after joining the department in 2007, which we told you about here. 

Demings initially said county employees could lose their jobs if they don’t get vaccinated but later said firefighters would receive a written reprimand.

Demings said 95% of all county employees have complied with vaccination protocols, including 88% of Fire Rescue staff. 

Davis stood by DeSantis during a news conference in Clearwater on Thursday and spoke publicly for the first time on the matter.

"I was terminated for what I believe to be an unlawful order," Davis said. "The men and women that I serve…have spoken to me over the last several months, unable to sleep, worried about what would happen if they didn't get this shot if they were mandated."

During the press conference DeSantis also called for a special legislative session to prevent President Biden’s vaccine mandates from being enacted in Florida. 

“We have an opportunity here to take additional action, and I think we have to do it,” DeSantis said. “I think we have got to stand up for people’s jobs and their livelihoods.”

DeSantis did not announce a date for the session. 

Demings addressed DeSantis and his call for the session saying his mandate is meant to keep everyone safe from the virus.

“We will aggressively defend our right to protect our citizens,” Demings said. “Unfortunately, the governor and others have politicized getting vaccinated. They seem to care more about using firefighters as political pawns rather than as public servants who are entrusted to protect and serve. You asked me what my response to the governor, or anyone else, I say these simple works: bring it on.”



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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