Orange County

‘Totally inappropriate’: DeSantis pushes back after Orange County battalion chief fired

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing back after an Orange County battalion chief was fired for failing to punish firefighters who didn’t follow the county’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“These are people that have served our communities and they’re being tossed aside,” DeSantis said in a news conference in Titusville on Wednesday.


READ: Orange County battalion chief fired for failing to enforce vaccine mandate

DeSantis is now promising more protections for people who are fired.

He said people should not be fired for what he said is not following unlawful orders. DeSantis said he will do something to protect people but didn’t yet say what that something was.

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“I think the firing is totally inappropriate. I think this is ridiculous,” DeSantis said.

Battalion Chief Stephen Davis, a 14-year veteran, refused to write up firefighters who were out of compliance with the county’s vaccine mandate.

Davis wrote a letter to the department before his firing on Tuesday, stating that, “I have been wrongfully terminated (in) what appears to be a retaliation to a current lawsuit I have been named in.”

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Davis said on Oct. 5 he was given paperwork to give to personnel who violated the mandate. He said he discovered “many inconsistencies.”

He said names on the list of firefighters to be disciplined included firefighters he said told him they had religious exemption.

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That same night he said he was relieved of duty.

Davis said it was the next day he learned that reprimands were stopped. County emails show that 289 firefighters were on the list and 60 reprimands written were in error.

Davis ends the letter by writing, “As a chief officer in this department, it is my duty to ensure those above me are held to the same standards as those below me. It is my responsibility, as it is with my peers, to question those policies that violate the law, human rights, and other unethical situations.”

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Davis will likely file a grievance to try and get his job back.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler,

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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