The New York City fire department is in a state of chaos as 18 out of 300 stations were out of service on Monday due to the vaccine mandate that came into effect and forced supervisors to send home unvaccinated firefighters, but Cops in the NYPD have been filing for exemptions to keep their jobs without having to get vaccinated.
The FDNY has not released the number of unvaccinated firefighters who were told to go home, but at least one crew of eight from FDNY Engine, 15 in the Lower East Side, and 243 in Brooklyn along with a female firefighter from Engine 38 in the Bronx and a firefighter from Engine were among them. Ladder 29 in Mott Haven in the Bronx also sent home 12 crews while Engine 219 near the Barclay’s Center sent three and two from Ladder 105.
One fully vaccinated firefighter from Engine 219 in Brooklyn said: ‘I know that it is preventing us from getting to calls and medical calls in a timely fashion and it’s wearing on the guys. They’re not allowed in the firehouse. They were ready to respond, and unfortunately, they weren’t allowed to get on the rigs. It’s going to prevent New Yorkers from getting the help they need.”
2,300 firefighters have called out sick so far and most of them are unvaccinated claiming sick pay to avoid missing out on their pay.
“It didn’t have to be this way at all but de Blasio chose a path of fear and intimidation, a path that put the public in danger,” Vincent Variale, President of the New York Uniformed EMS Officers Union, said. The union doesn’t believe that vaccines should be mandated, though the organization does think they’re safe.
The NYPD continues to maintain a well-staffed department, with only 34 uniformed officers taking unpaid leave instead of getting vaccinated. The commissioner has allowed more than 5,000 people who are unvaccinated to keep their jobs and continue working. These 5,000 unvaccinated individuals are filing medical or religious exemptions. The decision to grant these exemptions is still under review.
Firefighters in New York City were reluctant to speak with the press due to orders from their union. The Uniformed Firefighters Association warned that dozens of units would be down but could not give any specific numbers.
The union’s president Andrew Ansbro said at a press conference on Monday morning that the shortage of firefighters could slow response times. Ansbro said, “Every time any single company is out of service, the response time in that area is affected. If this company was out of service and one of you were to drop of a heart attack right now, if they were in service, they’d be here in a minute. If they were out of service, another firehouse in the area has to get here. Your response time to your heart attack is affected by this company being out of service. Our system is a web where we’re constantly picking up the slack for other companies, based on their responses.”
There’s been so much misinformation out there in the last 48 hours, reports of firehouses closing when they weren’t. “The factual answer is going to come from City Hall. There’s a lot of rumor mill and in fact, it’s being done by certain unions to try and make people worried,’ de Blasio said.
Mayor de Blasio’s administration is doubling down on their vaccination mandate, telling firefighters and police officers they’ve had long enough to consider being vaccinated. “It’s been quite clear this was the direction we were going in and it’s the right thing to do. I would argue people had plenty of evidence to make a decision on. Protect their careers doing incredible work – it’s time for people to come in and get vaccinated. It’s time to get back to work,’ de Blasio said at his briefing on Monday.
Commissioner Nigro lambasted those who had called out sick to avoid missing pay, saying “Irresponsible bogus sick leave by some of our members is creating a danger for New Yorkers and their fellow Firefighters. They need to return to work or risk the consequences of their actions. The firefighters and cops say they were not given enough time to make ‘life and career-changing decision”.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that all firefighters must be vaccinated by the beginning of November, and those who refuse will lose pay. The department’s union bosses have said some members plan retirements early rather than be forced to get vaccinated.
91% of the city’s employees have been vaccinated as of Monday morning. This leaves around 29,000 unvaccinated workers.
Five police unions have come together to ask Mayor de Blasio for emergency measures that would help mitigate potential chaos during the shortage.
The joint letter said: “With less than 48 hours until Mayor de Blasio’s arbitrary vaccination deadline for city workers – and following a state judge’s refusal to pause the deadline despite the mandate’s chaotic rollout – police union leaders are warning New Yorkers that the NYPD brass is completely unprepared for the staffing shortage that will result from the mandate’s haphazard implementation.”
“NYC cannot afford to have a police department that is weak, disorganized, and totally dominated by the irrational whims of City Hall. Unfortunately, that’s what the NYPD has become,” Pat Lynch, President of the Police Benevolent Association in New York City, said. “Now cops and New Yorkers are all wondering: what exactly will happen when the vaccine deadline strikes?’ Lynch added.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the New York City Sanitation Department will be on 12-hour shifts and work Sundays in order to prevent the trash from piling up. The city’s fire and sanitation departments saw a sudden increase in vaccination rates on Friday as workers rushed to meet the deadline for mandatory vaccines, which also comes with an extra incentive: those who get vaccinated will receive $500.
Last week, hundreds of city workers took to the streets and protested outside Mayor de Blasio’s official residence at Gracie Mansion. Hundreds of New York City firefighters took sick leave on Friday instead of complying with De Blasio’s mandatory vaccination requirement.
The number of Covid-related infections and fatalities in the US has dropped to their lowest levels since April 2021. The number of vaccinated Americans continues to rise – now at nearly 58% (191 million) of the population.
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