ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Fire Rescue battalion chief Steven Davis was terminated on Tuesday.
Davis was terminated on the grounds of failure to follow a direct order and insubordination as a result of his refusal to issue disciplinary action on Oct. 5, according to Orange County Fire Rescue.
A termination letter issued by the OCFR states as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday the battalion chief would be fired.
The county’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate requirement gave county employees a Sept. 30 deadline to get vaccinated or receive a written reprimand.
Davis did not write up employees who did not give their COVID-19 vaccination status.
Records show Davis refused to comply with orders from Chief Kimberly Buffkin to issue reprimands to personnel who did not complete vaccination verification.
News of his termination hit his coworker and fellow firefighter, Jason Wheat, by surprise.
“We were very worried for him and we didn’t think it was actually going to come down to termination.”
In response to his termination Wheat shared an email he said Davis sent to all Orange County employees challenging his termination:
“Oct. 5, 2021, I was given paperwork in the afternoon to issue to my personnel which I discovered had many inconsistencies. The list I was given had names on it which I knew from personal conversations had requested a religious exemption.”
However, his explanation wasn’t enough. This is the latest episode in the clash between firefighters and officials over the county’s vaccine mandate. Frustration over the issue has grown so contentious Wheat and Davis are named in a lawsuit against Orange County.
“It’s affecting us big time because our morale is already down from the whole vaccine mandate, our jobs were getting threatened to be terminated, then luckily that didn’t happen, but we still got writeups for not complying for the vaccine mandate,” Wheat said.
Wheat said firefighters and the union that represents them will put up a fight and challenge officials.
“I was really disappointed, Chief Davis is a great chief, he is well respected throughout the fire department he has been nothing but a great fireman and leader since he started,” Wheat said.