‘If someone dies due to a slower emergency response, it’s on Bill de Blasio and his overreaching mandates’
Twenty-six New York City firehouses were forced to close on Saturday amid an FDNY “sickout” in protest at the Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
Hundreds of FDNY workers have reportedly been taking paid sick leave in protest over the mandate, which came into effect at 5pm on Friday.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican whose district includes Staten Island and Brooklyn, said five firehouses had closed in her district alone.
If someone dies due to a slower emergency response, it’s on Bill de Blasio and his overreaching mandates. I hope this fool fixes it ASAP!
— Nicole Malliotakis (@NMalliotakis) October 30, 2021
“If someone dies due to a slower emergency response, it’s on Bill de Blasio and his overreaching mandates. I hope this fool fixes it ASAP!”
Among those firehouses to have closed are Engine 55 in Lower Manhattan, Engine 234 in Crown Heights, Engine 231 in Brownsville, Ladder 128 in Long Island City and Engine 158 and Ladder 78 in Richmond on Staten Island.
The FDNY said on Friday vaccination rates across the department had reached 77 per cent, after a surge just ahead of the mandate taking effect. The mandate is expected to start being enforced on Monday.
The current vaccination rate for all FDNY members is 77%.
72% of Firefighters, 84% of EMTs and Paramedics, and 90% of civilian employees. pic.twitter.com/f5d8tBATLX
— FDNY (@FDNY) October 30, 2021
Negotiations between the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and the FDNY Office of Labour Relations were continuing right up until the Friday deadline.
The association had been seeking an extension to “maintain the safety of the public and choice for our membership” in a memo sent to members,the New York Post reported.
City Councilman Joe Borelli, who represents Staten Island and chairs the committee on fire and emergency management, said 26 shuttered companies was an “unconscionable number”.
“I doubt New Yorkers care about the vaccine status of the person applying defibrillators to their chest,” he told the Post.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the exodus of firefighters on sick leave was “unacceptable”.
He added the department had plans in place to mitigate staff shortages.
“We will use all means at our disposal, including mandatory overtime, mutual aid from other EMS providers, and significant changes to the schedules of our members,” Pix11 reported.
“We will ensure the continuity of operations and safety of all those we have sworn oaths to serve.”
All New York city employees including firefighters, police and garbage collectors had to show proof of vaccination by the deadline of 5pm Friday or face losing their jobs.
Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, last week warned longer response times would “be a death sentence to some people.”
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, who caught Covid-19 in January, said his department was sending reminders to workers whose records indicated they hadn’t yet received a shot and that NYPD vaccination sites will remain open all weekend.
Mr Shea said thousands of officers who’ve applied for medical and religious exemptions will be allowed to work while their cases are reviewed.
Nearly 1,000 officers were vaccinated on Friday alone, the NYPD said, rushing to meet the deadline for the mandate and an extra incentive: workers who got the shot by Friday received a cash bonus of $500.
“On Monday, when this thing really starts being enforced, we’re going to check the vaccination status and if you’re not vaccinated, no pay and you’re going to be not able to work,” Mr Shea said in a video message Wednesday to officers.
“I don’t think anyone wants that to happen. I don’t think you want it to happen. I certainly don’t. We need you out there.”
The Independent has approached Mayor de Blasio for comment.
Agencies contributed to this report