PORTLAND, Ore– This is a developing story, heard first on FM News 101 KXL. Tuesday, 14 Port of Portland Firefighters were told not to return to work because they refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Vaccination for first responders among others was mandated by Oregon Governor Kate Brown and in Washington, by Governor Jay Inslee.
Only 7 Port firefighters remain on the job. Not enough to meet the demands of a busy airport where it is not uncommon for firefighters to respond to some 1,500 calls per year. Some of those calls pertain to things like falls, and heart attacks .
Alan Ferschweiler, President of the Union Representing Firefighters , AFF Local 43 says, “With these highly skilled firefighters gone the traveling public has to be able to do CPR. If you’re a doctor or a nurse you need to be very aware of any emergency around you and be ready to help.”
Ferschweiler also says, ” Travelers headed to Seattle should consider driving instead of flying. Without the technical skills acquired by this group of firefighters if there’s a crash on the tarmac or in the water help will not be on the way quickly enough to save lives.”
FM New 101 Reporter Rosemary Reynolds is working on the SeaTac aspect of this story.
In a statement from the Port of Portland:
The Port employs 41 firefighters, 14 of whom have yet to be vaccinated and are on leave at this time. The remaining 27 firefighters are working.
Portland Airport Fire & Rescue’s main charge is responding to incidents on the airfield. The airfield and the safety of traveling public will not be affected by 14 unvaccinated firefighters not being on duty. The airport will not lose service nor compromise response time to the PDX airfield.
The City of Portland Fire has emergency response jurisdiction to the airport terminal, Cascade Station and properties surrounding the airport. Airport Fire provides initial response to PDX and provides mutual aid response to outside agencies including fire, EMS and water rescue responses.