Kittitas Valley (WA) Fire and Rescue Accommodates Unvaccinated, Retains Full Staffing

Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue remains at full strength under state-mandated COVID-19 vaccine guidelines – the result of vaccine education and establishing protocols for employees who claim an exemption from the requirements.

Chief John Sinclair told the Ellensburg Daily Record the department chose a multi-pronged approach to maintaining staffing while still complying with Washington state COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

The majority of department employees received vaccines. About 20% of employees, however, declined the vaccine either for medical, religious or personal reasons. Unvaccinated employees will undergo increased testing. In addition, they will follow increased masking, social distancing, and workplace disinfection procedures to allow them to remain in the workforce.

While some communities have taken a hard line against employees who decline vaccination, Kittitas Valley chose to accommodate the hold-outs to maintain adequate staffing. Maintaining existing staff is especially important in this era of declining interest in fire service careers, Sinclair said.

Visit the Daily Record for the full report.

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