A firefighter in Los Angeles is under investigation for a “despicable” act after he dropped his pants and wiped his bottom with the letter he was provided to adhere to the city’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
A spokesperson of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) told local media outlets on Wednesday that the firefighter had “responded inappropriately” to the vaccine mandate letter and the matter is under investigation.
On 18 November the LAFD member, whose name has not been revealed, was asked to comply with the vaccine mandate and handed over the document. In defiance, he wiped his bottom with it, leaving faecal matter on the document, and dropped it on the ground.
According to Stentorians of Los Angeles City, a group representing African American firefighters, the incident took place at Fire Station 69 in Pacific Palisades. The fire department’s captain and a chief officer witnessed the incident.
“The LA City Stentorians are sickened and disgusted by this horrific display of unprofessionalism,” they said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times. “To date, we have not heard from anyone from the LAFD administration condemning this act of blatant disrespect and harassment.”
Calling the incident a “terminable” offence, the group asked authorities “to take swift and immediate action to deter any city employee from feeling entitled and not encouraged but empowered to behave in such an embarrassing and threatening manner”.
“The department is aware of the seriousness of the allegations and took immediate action upon learning of this incident,” LAFD spokesperson Cheryl Getuiza said.
Ms Getuiza said the firefighter was asked to go on paid leave and added that he would “face the consequences of any inappropriate acts”.
The incident came as a sign of growing resistance among some LAFD employees over the city’s vaccine mandate. Los Angeles authorities have made vaccination a must for all firefighters. Those who do not get the jab before the 18 December deadline are at risk of losing their job.
The order has caused some concerns among unions, who have demanded that no one should be sacked for not complying with the vaccine mandate, and have also filed an unfair labour practice claim against the city.
Despite a growing body of evidence showing the safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines, some hesitancy remains in the US. However, over 70 per cent of the city’s firefighters are vaccinated, but some have sought exemptions for medical and religious reasons.