American News Oct 14, 2021 7:22 AM EST

Seattle Fire operating under dangerous staffing levels, crisis to get worse after mandate firings

"When you hear Seattle Fire you might think it's the pinnacle of the region. We might be good at fighting fire...but we certainly aren't a family, and these last 18 months have proven that."

Seattle Fire operating under dangerous staffing levels, crisis to get worse after mandate firings
Katie Daviscourt Seattle, WA
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The Seattle Fire Department is currently under a significant staffing crisis that is set to grow more dire come October 18 when the city terminates dozens of unvaccinated firefighters for not taking the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, a requirement for all city employees.

Sources within SFD told The Post Millennial that the department hit a record-low number of available staffers over the weekend which resulted in the unavailability of five aid units, three fire engines, and two medic units.

If Seattle Mayor Durkan follows through on terminating unvaccinated city employees, the departments is predicted to lose 5-10 engines, according to sources who also said there are 55 Seattle Fire employees that haven't submitted vaccination records. 54 of them are uniformed firefighters. Among those who havent submitted records are chief officers, firefighters, and EMT's, according to sources.

The deadline to submit records to the city is Monday, October 18. Failure to submit records will allegedly result in termination. One firefighter told The Post Millennial, "Our last shift we are able to work without getting the vaccine is Oct 17th, which gets off at 0800 on the 18th.  We have not been officially fired yet.  We are not allowed to work, but can use paid time off (vacation/comp time) while awaiting next steps."

The firefighter added, "Think staffing was bad before and the citizens were impacted? Medic units, Aid Cars, and engines will be browned out." Other firefighters told The Post Millennial that so far to their knowledge and in discussions with their co-workers, no Seattle Firefighters they know have gotten accomodations for either medical or religious exemptions.

The potential loss of 54 firefighters will only enhance the current staffing crisis in the department.

Seattle firefighters told The Post Millennial that department morale is at an all-time low in heartbreaking testimonies.

"I have been with the Seattle Fire Department for a little over 15 years. Before I moved to Seattle, I worked as a firefighter for over a decade. I gave up everything to come here. I only wanted to work 5 more years and then I could retire with a full investment in the retirement system here. However, now I am facing being fired because of this vaccine mandate. I am absolutely devastated!" a Seattle firefighter told The Post Millennial.

"The Seattle Fire Department and the State of Washington was everything to us. Everything that we could have asked for. As scared as we were to leave everyone and everything we've ever known, it was perfect, until, this mandate."

In another testimony, a 15 year Seattle firefighter and father of three children told The Post Millennial that he never thought he would get fired for "doing the right thing."

"I started training to be a firefighter at age 16. I paid to put myself through the Washington State Fire Academy in North Bend for career firefighters, where I came out valedictorian. I pursued this career path for the pride of service. My father was a police officer, my mother was a 911 dispatcher, my uncle and grandfather all in law enforcement - public safety is in my blood," they said. "In that same spirit of service, because I am committed to it, I am now losing my job for it. I never thought I would be fired for doing the right thing."

"So here I am, determined to serve to the end, to uphold the oath I took as a Seattle Fire Fighter as best as I know how. An oath of service, an oath that mentions diversity and leaves out segregation."

Aside from the vaccine mandate contributing to low morale, a Seattle firefighter told The Post Millennial that the department has slowly been going downhill since the city adopted progressive policies.

"When you hear Seattle Fire you might think it's the pinnacle of the region. We might be good at fighting fire...but we certainly aren't a family, and these last 18 months have proven that," they said. "I have worked in the fire service for 18 years, at 4 full-time departments, and never seen a department full of so much hate."

"Stations talk distrubingly disrespectful about other stations because of their political views. Station captains make racist comments saying 'because people are a certain color that they're racist,'" they continued. "I don't blame them, I blame the department for teaching that."

"The chief took 20 months to check how his crews were doing during a 'pandemic,' and now we have members talking poorly about the people losing their jobs like we're the selfish ones and they're the high and mighty for picking up "our slack," they  added.

The Seattle Fire Department told employees to prepare for changes in the coming days after the vaccination deadline and provided contingency staffing plans, according to sources in the department.

The same sources added that the contingency staffing plans would include, cancelling all non-essential training and community events, limiting annual building inspections strictly to schools, prioritizing which units could be out-of-service due to the day's staffing levels, etc.

Engines have already been spotted outside their regular service areas across the city, which sources say is in response to the staffing crisis.

SFD has not returned multiple requests for comment.

In addition to Seattle losing dozens of firefighters over the mandates, over 200 Seattle police officers reportedly haven't submitted their vaccination records. The number of police officers that haven't submitted records continues to decrease the closer the deadline approached. Last week, over 300 officers had yet to submit records.

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