NEW YORK CITY – With the deadline for the COVID-19 vaccination mandate imposed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio having come and gone last Friday, as of Monday, November 1, thousands of city employees who have refused to get the jab have found themselves on unpaid leave until further notice.
As a result, 26 FDNY firehouses are now out of service due to staffing shortages brought about by the vaccine mandate. The firehouses in question were shuttered as of 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, and elected officials, such as Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), are warning that there could be dire consequences, with the blame laid directly at the mayor’s feet.
“As of 7:30am this morning, 26 @FDNY companies are closed including 5 in my district due to @NYCMayor locking out unvaccinated firefighters,” she stated in a tweet. “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!”
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Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro noted that none of the firehouses would be closed permanently, and blamed the currently lack of coverage on so-called “sick-outs” staged by disgruntled FDNY members to protest the vaccine mandate.
“Irresponsible bogus sick leave by some of our members is creating a danger for New Yorkers and their fellow Firefighters,” Nigro said. “They need to return to work or risk the consequences of their actions.”
An FDNY spokesman, Jim Long, stated that the firefighters will be shuffled around to stations where they are needed the most until the issues with personnel currently on unpaid leave are resolved.
“The situation remains fluid,” he said. “We hire manpower to get the company back in service or relocate other units to the area for coverage.”
The 26 closed firehouses represent 7.6 percent of NYC’s 341 engine and ladder companies; currently, 72 percent of firefighters are fully vaccinated, with nearly 4,000 still having yet to take the jab.