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Search the word “firefighter” in Google today (Friday) and the three top items are all about one LAFD firefighter. Click the “news” tab and you’ll find the entire first page of results is about the same firefighter. We don’t know his name, but the headlines alone tell us more than many of us want to know about his actions. Here are a few:
- “L.A. Firefighter literally wipes butt with COVID vax mandate”
- “DIRTY PROTEST Anti-vax firefighter ‘drops his pants & wipes his butt with letter’ about compulsory covid shots in defiance of mandate”
- “L.A. firefighter accused of wiping butt, leaving fecal matter on non-compliance letter in protest of vaccine mandate”
The pants dropping and wiping occurred on November 18 and it was originally reported Wednesday by Dakota Smith of the Los Angeles Times:
The Los Angeles Fire Department is investigating an incident in which a firefighter “responded inappropriately” after being handed a letter to comply with the city’s vaccine mandate, a department spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The LAFD member responded to receiving the noncompliance letter by dropping his pants and wiping his buttocks with the letter, leaving fecal matter on the document, before dropping it to the ground, according to the Stentorians of Los Angeles City, a group representing African American firefighters.
The firefighter involved is now on paid administrative leave. The news stories indicate the butt wiping occurred in front of a captain and a chief officer. We won’t know the damage done to this firefighter’s career until LAFD investigates further. But it’s not hard to imagine the damage done to the cause of thousands of other firefighters and police officers protesting vaccine mandates across the country — the ones who haven’t exposed themselves and wiped feces on an official vaccine notice.
Some reading this will react to the firefighter’s actions by saying, “Good for him. That will show them.” Others will blame the news media for spreading this story around the world. And some will attack me for daring to talk about any of this.
Like it or not, that LAFD firefighter is now the poster child of the anti-vaccine mandate movement in the fire service. A story this outrageous is an unfortunate illustration of defiance for a cause that is very much about defiance.
But the harm isn’t just on the anti-mandate cause. It impacts the image of all firefighters. It reminds me of a story in Georgia a number of years ago where a firefighter taking and sharing pictures of a dead woman’s body made headlines in the U.S. and around the world. People were rightly asking why would any decent human do this, especially a firefighter? Don’t you think people are asking that same question about the LAFD firefighter?
Once you hear a story like this it’s hard to forget. Everyone knows they would be fired immediately if they pulled this stunt at their workplace. This childish and petulant behavior is not something the public expects from a person you trust to come into your home at what may be the worst moment in your life.
Yes, we are talking about only one person — one firefighter. A single firefighter shouldn’t represent the entire fire service. But sadly, in an era where reputations can be destroyed at the speed of light, right now he does.