The City of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Firefighters Association (BHFA) have reached a resolution in the city’s vaccination and safety measures for firefighters.
“I am pleased that a consensus has been reached and the community of Beverly Hills will receive the highest level of service it deserves,” said Fire Chief Greg Barton in a statement.
“We are pleased with the agreement reached with the city so that the community of Beverly Hills will receive the highest level of service it expects and deserves. We will continue to comply with the LA County Health order through this ongoing crisis for the protection of the community we serve, as well as our firefighters,” BHFA Board Member Victor Gutierrez said in a statement.
After an order by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health), Beverly Hills Fire Department (BHFD) firefighters faced a Sept. 30 deadline to either get vaccinated or submit a request for exemption. The order allowed for exemptions for workers whose “sincerely held religious beliefs” precluded receiving the vaccine and those with qualifying medical reasons.
While the vast majority of firefighters in the department have received the inoculation, the city granted exemptions in 18 cases.
The county health order requires that exempt workers test at least once a week and recommends use of high-quality face coverings or respirators, but it also allows cities to opt for stricter guidelines.
Going beyond the requirements of Public Health, BHFD removed unvaccinated firefighters from medical calls, which account for the majority of calls made to the department. In social media posts, BHFA described the measures as a form of segregation.
“The Beverly Hills Fire Department will make operational adjustments as needed to ensure the greatest level of protection for the community with vaccinated paramedics assigned to engine companies wearing full personal protective equipment when responding on medical calls,” Barton said at the time. “I want to assure every member of this community that our quality of service and your health and safety will not be compromised.”
In the agreement between the city and the union, the 18 unvaccinated employees must submit to daily COVID-19 testing and wear “enhanced Personal Protective Equipment” when interacting with medical patients.
Councilmember John Mirisch, who has spoken out against the unvaccinated firefighters, characterized the agreement as a concession.
“This resistance to vaccines is something that, from my perspective, is anti-science, especially when it comes to healthcare workers who are coming into close contact with our residents,” Mirisch told the Courier.