“This is not leadership”: The chief of the battalion of the Spokane fire department leaves the vaccine mandate

October 5, 2021 8:34 PM

Posted: October 5, 2021 8:34 PM

Updated: October 5, 2021 11:15 p.m.

SPOKANE, Wash. – A Spokane Fire Department battalion chief is calling on the company and taking early retirement before the state’s vaccine mandate deadline expires.

Battalion chief David Heizer sent a letter to Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer and Mayor Nadine Woodward saying it was not his decision to end the community service, it was theirs.

Heizer said in the letter that he had applied for a religious vaccine exemption and that it was approved by the city. The problem came when he was told that there was no accommodation for him.

“No accommodation is not a choice. Many fire brigades were able to accept their members. The decision by the management of the Spokane Fire Department and the City of Spokane shows that the people who have served the community for so long are not concerned. This is not leadership, ”the letter says in part.

Heizer said he served the Spokane community for 29 years and would have loved to stay for many more years. He said he was proud of his job and the way he did it.

He ends the letter by saying that his last shift will be October 15th. Then, on October 16, he said he would apply for retirement under the LEOFF2 pension system. He said he did this because he had a wife and four children to feed. He said that after leaving the department, he will look for another job “that I can faithfully serve”.

Brian Coddington, Spokane City spokesman, issued the statement: “We are sad to see that some have decided to leave the department. You have a difficult choice as to whether or not to get fully vaccinated because of the governor’s mandate. We respect your decision and also ask you to respect the decision of the city. The city made the equally difficult and best decision it could make for the safety and health of the community when assessing the risks that allow unvaccinated members to treat our community members when they are most at risk. Difficult as they are, everyone is making the best decisions given the mandate amid an ongoing global pandemic. “

Heizer is not the only Spokane Fire Department employee in this position.

It granted 48 vaccination exemptions, but these firefighters could still lose their jobs because there is no shelter for them that will keep the public safe.

RELATED: Nearly 50 Spokane firefighters will lose their jobs because of vaccine mandate

The city gave the firefighters affected six options:

  1. Dismissal of essential functions
  2. Go without paying *
  3. resignation
  4. retirement
  5. separation
  6. Paid vacation*

* These options only apply to those who will not be vaccinated by October 18, the deadline. Those who have chosen to take unpaid leave can do so to delay other alternatives.

Firefighters can apply for other positions in the city that are not covered by the mandate. We won’t know how many of these firefighters are leaving until the end of November at the earliest.

The city promises not to affect 911 calls.

Battalion Commander David Heizer Letter from Tasha Cain to Scribd

MORE: So many Washington state employees have requested a religious exemption

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