Three of the 19 firefighters seeking damages from the City of Calgary for its COVID-19 vaccine policy have told their stories to the Western Standard..The city implemented a COVID-19 vaccine policy for employees that mandated two doses or continuous rapid testing to keep working in October 2021. Refusal to comply with the policy meant unpaid leave..A statement of claim was filed July 7 with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta, and argues the policy caused damages and infringed on workers rights..“Plaintiffs have suffered measurable damages, including mental distress, anxiety, and in particular damages to dignity and self-esteem,” the statement of claim said..“Therefore, plaintiffs are entitled to significant damages resulting from the way the city suspended employment, including claims for punitive damages resulting from serious human rights and charter violations.”.Former Fire Capt. Stephen Dabbagh worked with the Calgary Fire Department for 20 years before being put on indefinite unpaid leave for not complying with the COVID-19 mandates, then later resigned.. Stephen DabbaghFormer Captain Stephen Dabbagh .Dabbagh said he didn’t agree with many aspect of the mandates, as response times to emergencies took longer and masking in vehicles with his crew didn’t make sense..He also thought social distancing rules and the switch to online training made the workspace unsafe and left staff under-trained.."There were things I wasn't gonna go along with, like mask wearing in trucks on the way to emergencies and the social distancing in the hall," said Dabbagh.."These things affect the safety of the nature of our job that were implemented at the deputy chief level and then enforced by the district chiefs.".He said training procedures and drills are performed everyday to keep firefighters ready for action, but the drills were not being done to the same extent with the COVID-19 mandates..Dabbagh said he was then “harassed” for not wearing a mask on the way to emergencies..“They were having me write letters of why my crew were wearing masks on the way to a call, or why I wasn't wearing a mask on the way to call, it was just their way of imposing their power,” he said..“I would definitely call it harassment.”.He said the lawsuit is the result of multiple levels of people failing at their jobs.."You expect from your chiefs and deputies to at least provide a reasonably safe place to work," said Dabbagh.."It was also up to our unions to be looking out for these things, but they didn't.".“Nobody put up much of a fight against any of the vaccination policy, the discrimination, the harassment at work, the different types of testing for the vaxxed and the unvaxxed.”. Chris AndrewFormer firefighter Chris Andrew .Chris Andrew was a firefighter for the City of Calgary for 17 years..After having heart palpitations and losing 35 lbs., Andrew’s doctor wrote him a letter saying he was unfit to work, but his insurance provider denied him the claim and he was expected to keep working..He said concern and frustration about how the city claims to care about employee’s health and mental health, but wouldn’t provide any help to him when he was sick..“My disgust with the city is all of these courses that we've had to take over the years, ‘your mind mental health matters,’ ‘we're here to listen’, ‘if you ever have a problem the city's here for your health.’”.“But when a member is obviously struggling with diagnosable symptoms, saying hey, I need some help. They're like, nope, get back to work,” said Andrew..“How can I do that, I'm a captain that has to go into fire scenes with heart palpitations? That doesn't seem right.”.Andrew knew he was unfit to work and resigned under duress a couple months after the issues began.. Mike AnderuscoFormer driver Mike Anderusco .Mike Anderusco had been with the Calgary Fire Department for five years, but when the mandates came he refused to divulge his vaccination status, which resulted in him resigning under duress..His last day was November 11, “the day we remember all the sacrifices made for this country and freedoms that we have,” Andrerusco said..“At that point in time I think it was pretty well known that vaccinated or unvaccinated you could still you could still get COVID-19 you could still spread COVID-19. So to me, it made no sense.”.“Then they gave us the option of testing. What was the point of us having to test being unvaccinated and not having the vaccinated people test as well because as I said, vaccinated unvaccinated, you could still get it and spread it.”.Anderusco said the department put them on 30 day unpaid leave until they complied with the mandates, then the period was extended to another 30 days, and kept repeating that way..“They were just going to keep putting us on those unpaid 30 day leave of absences. So we had to make a choice if we were just gonna keep doing that or resign under duress.”.All the firefighters said the lawsuit is to stand up for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and to make it so these mandates cannot happen again..“We want to let everybody know what's going on and encourage other people to stand up,” said Anderusco..“If nobody stands up against what's going on, they’re just going to be able to bully and discriminate and force everybody to do what they want.”.All three firefighters said the response from their teams were generally good, most on the workforce agreed with their ability to have a choice..There seemed to just be a fringe 10% who agreed with the mandates, according to Andrerusco..Dabbagh said another reason the group is pursuing legal action is “because not having a stake in an experimental gene therapies is total breach of the Criminal Code,” which is “directly” putting them in danger..The response from their case getting media attention has dozens of people across Canada and the US reaching out telling similar stories, said Dabbagh..“Every day it's just story after story, the exact same thing 'I'm a firefighter from Brampton or I'm an EMT with Toronto, and how do I do what you guys are doing?'” said Andrew..“It's just dozens of these people that are just stuck and they don't know what to do and how to go forward.”.“All I can say is find a good lawyer and get started, but I know that dark place they're in right now.”.Of the 19 in the lawsuit, Dubbagh said six resigned under duress, one retired under duress, one was fired, a few are off on work related injury and some are still active duty..The City of Calgary would not comment.