A Los Angeles firefighter reportedly responded to obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination non-compliance letter by wiping his buttocks with it and throwing it to the ground.
A group that represents African Americans in the Los Angeles Fire Department said the smoke eater dropped his pants and wiped the letter against his back leaving a visible mark before throwing it away, according to Los Angeles Times.
“The department is aware of the seriousness of the allegations and took immediate action upon learning of this incident,” LAFD spokeswoman Cheryl Getuiza told the LA Times, declining to comment further on the Nov. 18 incident.
Getuiza confirmed that the firefighter is currently on paid administrative leave and “will face the consequences of any inappropriate act”, but did not specify the reason for his leave, according to the Times.
The incident was said to have taken place at Fire Station 69 in Pacific Palisades and was observed by a captain and chief LAFD officer, the Stentorians said in a statement to the Council of Fire Marshals and city officials.
The statement included a photograph of a man holding what appears to be a stained document.
The group called the act a “punishable offense”.
“The LA City Stentorians are sickened and disgusted by this horrific display of unprofessionalism,” the Stentorians statement said. “To date, we have not heard anyone from the LAFD administration condemn this act of blatant disrespect and harassment.
The group demanded “swift and immediate action” from the mayor and the Fire Commission “to dissuade any city employee from feeling empowered and not encouraged, but empowered to behave in such an embarrassing and threatening manner.”
On Friday, the department was made “aware of an incident in which a member inappropriately responded to a hand-delivered letter to comply,” Getuiza told The Times. On Monday, he was under investigation by the ministry’s professional standards division.
“No matter how our members react, all city employees must comply with the city ordinance – either apply for an exemption, get vaccinated or be fired,” Getuiza said.
All city employees must be vaccinated. Vaccination compliance notices have been sent to all workers who have not yet received their vaccines or exemptions asking them to provide proof of their vaccination by December 18. Those who fail to comply and sign the notices must be removed from active service and their pay stopped, according to a memo obtained by The Times.
“I am more than appalled by such an act committed by an LAFD firefighter,” Jimmie Woods-Gray, chairman of the Fire Commission, told The Times on Wednesday.
“Strong corrective actions are needed,” she said.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti did not comment directly on the incident, however, spokesman Harrison Wollman said in response to the Stentorian’s statement that “the mayor expects the fire department to is dealing with this matter definitively and making it clear that these appalling actions will not deter enforcement of the rules we have put in place to save lives, ”the Times reported.