Orlando, FL – A decorated Orlando firefighter was fired after he recorded a city commissioner yelling and making accusations at first responders who were called to revive her.
Firefighter Joshua Granada, who was named Florida’s 2017 co-Firefighter of the Year shortly before he was fired, said he’s undergone a “cascade of the harassment” from officials in his department since his participation in rescues at the Pulse nightclub massacre on June 12, 2016, and that his “wrongful termination” was due to fallout from that.
His department said Granada's termination had nothing to do with Pulse.
Orlando Fire Rescue officials said that Granada, a former engineer paramedic with the department, was fired on Nov. 21, after he violated privacy rules by making a cell phone recording of Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill during a medical call, WKMG reported.
Granada didn’t deny making the recording, but said Hill made accusations and became belligerent during the incident, and that he wanted to ensure he had proof of what actually transpired.
On Aug. 27, a security officer at Orlando’s Double Tree Hotel called the fire department to assist Hill, who was reportedly unresponsive in a room at the hotel.
Paramedics had to revive Hill, according to WKMG.
When she regained consciousness, Hill began yelling at the first responders, and made concerning allegations, Granada said.
That’s when he decided to make a 30-second audio recording to document Hill’s comments.
“I wanted to protect all of us on the scene," he told WKMG. “From what I heard and what I saw, I felt the need, I thought it would be prudent.”
The nature of the Hill's accusations have not been publicly released. Her medical information about why she needed to be revived was also no released.
Granada admitted that he may not have made the right choice, but said that he didn’t know how else to protect himself and his coworkers.
He said he believed he was “wrongfully terminated” from his position over matters stemming from the Pulse nightclub massacre the year before, not the incident with the recording.
At a Wednesday press conference, Granada said he has struggled with symptoms of PTSD since the night of the shootings at Pulse.
Granada said that, per protocol, fire and rescue units were to stay back from incidents like the Pulse massacre until law enforcement determines the scene is safe for other emergency personnel.
But he and his partner didn’t wait for that clearance.
“I was targeted after the Pulse last year for breaking protocol to save lives,” Granada said. “We chose to turn ... towards the Pulse, putting ourselves in harm’s way, for the citizens of Orlando to do as much good as we could so that others may live. We made 5 total trips back and forth from the scene to the emergency room.”
Granada said that out of the 57 people rescued that night, 13 were taken by him and his partner.
In the aftermath of the massacre, Granada said he openly criticized his administration’s lack of response during the incident, and believes he made himself a “target” in the process.
“Our actions that night shed light on the administration’s lack of action,” Granada told the Orlando Sentinel. “That branded me as a problem employee ... and labeled me as someone they needed to get rid of to conceal their shortcomings.”
Also, he said administrators denied his pleas for help in dealing with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after he responded to the massacre.
The Orlando Professional Fire Fighters International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 1365 noted that Granada's lapse in judgment that led to his firing might not have occurred if the administration had given him the PTSD treatment he requested, WKMG reported.
"Since the events at the Pulse nightclub, Granada has been suffering from the emotional stress associated with helping the victims of the shooting,” the Orlando Professional Fire Fighters IAFF Local 1365 said at a Wednesday press conference.
“He has repeatedly sought treatment for PTSD from the fire department, only to be denied. Instead of assisting Granada with treatment, the Orlando Fire Department continued to expose him to emotional trauma," the union said.
Granada said the emotional battering continued right up to the moment he was fired.
“My employment was terminated approximately one hour after the administration recognized my 2017 State of Florida firefighter of the year award on the city internet,” he told WKMG. “The last words said to me by my employer were that I could not be trusted by the public.”
Orlando Fire Department Spokeswoman Ashley Papagni told the Orlando Sentinel that Granada was “absolutely not” targeted after the incident at Pulse.
“Unfortunately, Granada's actions the night of the Pulse shooting, however heroic, do not justify the illegal recording of a patient receiving medical care – violating their right to privacy,” Papagni said.
She also denied Granada’s claim that he was not afforded mental health treatment opportunities after the Pulse incident.
“While the specific services provided to any particular firefighter would be confidential under privacy laws, no firefighter was denied mental health services nor was any firefighter harassed for seeking treatment,” Papagni said.
Hill did not respond to repeated calls seeking comment since she was named in news reports about the incident, the Orlando Sentinel reported.