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128 LA Fire Department Employees Are Being Sent Home For Defying City's Vaccination Mandate

Chief Ralphs Terrazas at a press conference. He's standing in front of a red L.A. fire truck by microphones. Mayor Eric Garcetti stands behind him.
Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas at a press conference last year.
(Chava Sanchez
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Los Angeles Fire Department employees who are unvaccinated, haven’t applied for an exemption, and refuse regular testing are being taken off duty.

So far, that’s at least 128 employees who are mostly firefighters. They can use banked vacation time, but they will not get a salary.

LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas says continued refusal to comply could result in termination. But there are people to fill the openings, including fire academy graduates.

In a memo to staff, Terrazas says some staffers are encouraging colleagues "to be insubordinate when they are notified of their off duty status."

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"You can have an opinion as long as you do it off duty. But on duty, you're working, and you are a public servant," Terrazas wrote. "And I expect you to carry out our mission to protect the lives and property of the people of Los Angeles."

The department is investigating an incident during which a firefighter allegedly wiped himself with a notice about the vaccination mandate. Some firefighters are suing over it.

Currently, 82% of LAFD employees are vaccinated, according to Terrazas.

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