t

Puget Sound Fire plans to shift 18 employees from operations to desk jobs

Kent-based agency accommodating firefighters with exemptions from getting COVID-19 shot

Kent-based Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority plans to move 18 firefighters, emergency medical technicians and nurses who requested and received a medical or religious exemption to getting the COVID-19 vaccine from field operations to non-operation roles.

“As of Oct. 18, all employees will be either vaccinated or working in non-operation roles under a legal exemption and subsequent accommodation,” according to a Puget Sound Fire statement released in an Oct. 8 email to the Kent Reporter.

In August, Gov. Jay Inslee mandated all health care providers, including firefighters, be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, or they could face job termination. For a firefighter to be considered fully vaccinated by the October date, the deadline to receive a Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine or the second dose of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, was Oct. 4.

“Additionally, we anticipate two retirements and two leaves of absence as a direct result of the vaccination mandate,” according to the statement. “Six non-operational employees requested and received a medical or religious exemption. The organization provided accommodations to them in their current role.”

Puget Sound Fire has over 340 employees (uniformed and civilian), with about 260 (in operations) subject to the vaccine mandate. The agency covers the cities of Kent, Covington, SeaTac and Maple Valley. A board that includes three Kent City Council members and three Fire District 37 commissioners helps oversee the regional fire authority.

Operations will be down 13 positions (2-3 per day) as a result of accommodated employees leaving operations and day-shift employees returning, according to the statement. Puget Sound Fire said it has contingency plans to handle this type of variance in its staffing.

Firefighters with exemptions will move to day-shift jobs, such as fire prevention inspectors, training officers, business/Information Technology and planning.

A Puget Sound Fire assistant chief said in August the agency would enforce the mandate but planned to retain all of its employees.

With the changes, Puget Sound Fire is looking to hire firefighters for next year to help fill the gaps as well to backfill planned retirements in 2022.

The agency has nine people in the recruit academy now who will graduate at the end of January after starting training in August, according to Capt. Joe Root.

“We will seek to fill 24 seats in the next recruit academy class scheduled to start in January,” Root said in an email.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Sixty students in the Kent School District have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since Oct. 1, including six at Kent-Meridian High School. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District
Kent School District reports 60 COVID-19 student cases so far in October

First released report with student, staff cases at each school

t
Kent City Council adds $500,000 for sidewalks to 2022 budget

Also favors $200,000 to pay homeless people to remove graffiti

Stock photo
Kent man killed by train while standing on tracks

Oct. 20 near the 700 block of First Avenue North in Kent

t
Enrollment drops again in Kent School District

A decrease of 1,304 students this year compared to September 2020

Geographic dispersion of Washington State Patrol commissioned personnel who lost their jobs Oct. 18. (Washington State Patrol)
Rather than get vaccine, nearly 1,900 state workers lose jobs

Exactly how many people will be out of work for ignoring Gov.… Continue reading

t
SeaTac girl faces additional hit-and-run charges

Same driver who reportedly killed Maple Valley jogger also injured man in Des Moines

King County Courthouse adjacent to City Hall Park (courtesy of City of Seattle)
County council votes to take dangerous park out of Seattle’s hands

City Hall Park, next to the courthouse in downtown Seattle, has had multiple reports of crime.

Most Read