Update: Orange County firefighters continue to rally against vaccine mandate

The firefighters met with their attorney Sunday, Oct. 24, in front of the Orange County Administration Building to call for the court to grant an emergency injunctive relief against Orange County.

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Orange County firefighters are continuing to rally against the vaccine mandate. 

On Friday, Oct. 1, a group of Orange County firefighters came together to sue the county over a local vaccine mandate, which we told you about here

On Sunday, Oct. 24 a group of firefighters involved in the lawsuit spoke to the public about their fight against the vaccine mandate. 

The firefighters met with their attorney Rachel Rodriguez in front of the Orange County Administration Building to call for the court to grant an emergency injunctive relief against Orange County for what they described as an "unlawful and unconstitutional COVID-19 vaccine requirement policy."

"I can’t even imagine if I lose my job, or we all lose our jobs and our dreams came crushing down," Orange County firefighter Jairo Rodriguez said. "It just feels like the mayor isn’t really batting for us right now."

Jason Wheat, firefighter's union member who worked with Stephen Davis, former Orange County Battalion Chief, for 14 years and has been with Orange County Fire Rescue for almost 17 years, also shared his thoughts on the vaccine mandate. 

"Already, it’s caused a great leader to get fired from this organization," Wheat said. "That’s already putting the citizens at harm. I would have wanted that chief with me anywhere I go because of his commitment and his leadership with the fire department."

A status hearing regarding the lawsuit will happen in the next few weeks.

A group of 43 employees with the Orange County Fire Rescue filed a lawsuit against the Florida county regarding its mandate requiring either proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or regular negative tests. 

County workers were required to show proof of at least one shot by Thursday, Sept. 30, ahead of an Oct. 31 deadline to be fully vaccinated.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said those who don't show proof of vaccination would receive a letter of reprimand but face no risk of being fired for violating the order, which we told you about here

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, Stephen Davis was no longer an employee at Orange County Fire Rescue, according to a statement from Orange County. 

Davis, an Orange County Fire Rescue battalion chief, was fired Tuesday after he refused to reprimand unvaccinated firefighters, which we told you about here. Davis is a veteran of the U.S. Army and had 14 years of service and experience at the Orange County Fire Rescue Department.

According to Orange County fire officials, Davis was fired for "failure to follow a direct order."

A release confirmed the termination, stating, "the insubordination was the result of his refusal to issue disciplinary action on Oct. 5, 2021." 

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, which we told you about here. 

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



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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