Los Angeles fire captain who called vaccine rules ‘tyranny’ is investigated by department

A Los Angeles fire captain who called the city’s vaccination requirement for city workers “tyranny” is being investigated by the department’s Professional Standards Division for appearing to be on duty and speaking out against the city policy while wearing his uniform, department officials announced Monday, Aug. 23.

Capt. Christian Granucci  said there were hundreds of firefighters who have retained a lawyer to fight the requirement in a video posted on the Telegram app and then shared on Twitter by journalist Jasmyne Cannick. He added that he would “catch total grief” from the fire department.

“When will this tyranny stop?” Granucci said. “I’ll tell you when it’s going to stop. It’s going to stop right here, right now, and I’m putting my administration and my union on blast.”

The Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement that it was made aware of the video Monday morning. Officials with the agency said it respects the captain’s right to his opinions.

But LAFD officials said Granucci appeared to be in uniform and on duty in the video. That may have led some to believe he was speaking on behalf of the department, something he is not authorized to do.

The Los Angeles Fire Department’s union said in a statement that it does not support any city policy that makes vaccination a condition of employment.

“The majority of our firefighters have voluntarily been vaccinated, and more are choosing to do so each week,” said Freddy Escobar, president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112. “We continue to encourage our members to get vaccinated, but we do not support any city policies that make it a condition of employment.”

The Los Angeles City Council last week approved an ordinance requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all city employees except for those who have medical or religious exemptions.

“How can we ask Angelenos to be vaccinated if we are not doing it ourselves?” Council President Nury Martinez said at the time. “This is not radical, this is just common sense. We need to set the strong example for our communities.”

Under the ordinance, non-exempt employees must receive their first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer two-dose vaccine no later than Sept. 7, and their second dose no later than Oct. 5. Employees who choose to receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will have to be inoculated by Oct. 5.

Exemption requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and be due by Sept. 7. People will be qualified for an exemption if they have a medical condition or sincerely held religious beliefs, practices or observances that prevent them from receiving the vaccine.

The ordinance does not include finalized consequences for employees who do not get vaccinated and aren’t eligible for an exemption, but Vivienne Swanigan of the City Attorney’s Office told council members that the consequences are being hashed out with labor unions.

Escobar said in his statement that the union is in discussions with the city “because our highly skilled and experienced LAFD firefighters and paramedics cannot be easily replaced — especially in a department that is already understaffed.”

“The unexpected departure of even a small percentage of our workforce would have a devastating impact on public safety in Los Angeles,” Escobar added.

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