Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all New York City workers has led to a massive workforce shortage in the area’s fire department. The said mandate issued earlier last month required all of the city’s employees to have at least one vaccine shot by October 29.
De Blasio’s mandate also stressed that “unvaccinated employees will be placed on unpaid leave until they show proof of vaccination to their supervisor.”
But the thing is, there are so many firefighters opposing the mandate that the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) was forced to “suspend” the operations of twenty-six fire stations covered by the city’s jurisdiction. An estimated 28% of the total force is presumed to have already been placed on unpaid leave beginning on November 1.
According to New York City’s employment records, about 26,600 of the city’s workers remain unvaccinated even after De Blasio’s October 29 deadline. Notably, around 4,000 of these workers are connected with the city’s fire department.
Many concerned citizens and local politicians see this suspension by the FDNY as “disastrous.” It may also lead to irreparable consequences in New York City’s boroughs, namely Staten Island, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, just because of an oppressive COVID-19 vaccination mandate issued by Mayor de Blasio.
“You need a quick response… it’s scary,” said a man who asked to remain anonymous since he lived close to Brooklyn’s Engine Co. 284. “Most of the houses here are semi-attached frame houses.” He added that fires could “go up real quick” in the area, and it’s unthinkable what will happen if one takes place during the FDNY suspension.
Staten Island Rep. Nicole Malliotakis took to social media to vent her dissent about de Blasio’s vaccination mandate. Given that five fire stations in her district are affected by the FDNY suspension, she tweeted that “if someone dies due to a slower emergency response, it’s on Bill de Blasio and his overreaching mandates.” She also hoped that “this fool fixes it ASAP!”
FDNY spokesman Jim Long explained that the suspension of the twenty-six fire stations in New York City is only temporary and promised that the “situation remains fluid.” He pointed out that the department “hires manpower to get the company back in service or relocate other units to the area for coverage.”
Despite the high number of city workers remaining unvaccinated against COVID-19, Mayor de Blasio announced that he has no plans to extend the mandate’s deadline. “The bottom line is, can we do the things we need to do first of all to keep this city safe for the long run?”
Staten Island Republican Councilman Joe Borelli, chairperson of the council’s committee on fire and emergency management, related that the outcome of the vaccination mandate is “unconscionable” even with just a 7.6 percent closure rate.
“The firefighters who are unable to work have all been tested within the week and are not COVID positive,” Borelli stressed. “And I doubt New Yorkers care about the vaccine status of the person applying defibrillators to their chest.”