Unvaccinated NYC firefighters are sent home as mandate takes effect

MSN – Daily Mail

Eighteen New York City fire companies out of 300 were out of service on Monday as a result of the vaccine mandate that came into effect and forced supervisors to send home unvaccinated firefighters while thousands of NYPD cops filed for exemptions to keep their jobs without having to get the shots.

The FDNY will not confirm how many unvaccinated firefighters were told to go home in total, but at least one crew of eight from FDNY Engine 243 in Brooklyn along with a female firefighter from Engine 38 in the Bronx and a firefighter from Engine 15 in the Lower East Side were among them. 

A crew of 12 from Ladder 29 in Mott Haven in the Bronx were also sent home, three firefighters from Engine 219 near the Barclay’s Center and two from Ladder 105 – which shares the same fire house – were sent home after showing up to report for duty.

‘I know that it is preventing us 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,’ one fully vaccinated firefighter from Engine 219 in Brooklyn told DailyMail.com.

Another ten units were down in Williamsburg, East New York, Brownsville, Sunset Park and Flatbush. Twenty-six companies across all five boroughs went down yesterday but appeared to have been staffed again with volunteers on Monday.

So far, 2,300 firefighters have called out sick; fire chiefs said the majority of them are unvaccinated and are claiming sick pay to avoid missing out on their pay entirely by not getting the vaccine.

Vincent Variale, President of the New York Uniformed EMS Officers Union, told DailyMail.com: ‘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.’

The union believes the vaccine is safe but does not think it should be mandated.

Variale said: ‘Even if it’s one person out of a job it’s not right. These people were there throughout the pandemic. They saved lives. They are heroes who put their lives at risk – to throw them out of work because they have a fear or an objection to being vaccinated is just wrong.’

The NYPD remains well staffed; only 34 uniformed officers have chosen not unpaid leave instead of getting the vaccine.

More than 5,000 who are unvaccinated are filing medical or religious exemptions, under the encouragement of the Commissioner, which allows them to keep their jobs without getting the shots.



Engine 243, Bath Beach, Brooklyn

Engine 211, South Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Engine 226, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Engine 228, Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Engine 231, Brownsville, Brooklyn

Engine 279, Red Hook, Brooklyn

Engine 283, Brownsville, Brooklyn

Ladder 174, East Flatbush, Brooklyn 

Ladder 109, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Ladder 104, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Ladder 103, New Lots, Brooklyn  


Engine 15, Lower East Side, Manhattan

Engine 38, the Bronx  

Ladder 29, Mott Haven, Bronx 

Engine 219, Barclay’s Center, Brooklyn

They are allowed to work while those exemptions are reviewed – extending the deadline until a decision is made.

Firefighters across the city were reluctant to speak to the press under orders from the Uniformed Firefighters Association, which warned ‘dozens’ of units would be down but would not give a firm list.

At a press conference on Monday morning, the union’s president Andrew Ansbro warned the shortages would result in slower response times, though it’s unclear how the shortages played out in real time on Monday.

‘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 slack for other companies, based on their responses.’

Fire captains told DailyMail.com on Monday that they are hopeful tomorrow’s city elections will yield new officials who will quickly reverse the mandates and allow them to ‘get on with their jobs’.

FDNY Commissioner Dan Nigro admitted at a briefing with de Blasio that 18 units were down on Monday, and many more were understaffed.

But de Blasio, whose term ends on December 31, claimed the unions were lying to ‘make people worried’ and that while there are shortages, they aren’t a catastrophic.

In the last 48 hours there’s been a lot of misinformation out there, a lot of reports fire houses closed when they weren’t, a lot of hearsay honestly.

‘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,’ he said.

Captain Charles Saladis of Ladder 18 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side told DailyMail.com on Monday that both he and his colleagues from Ladder 11 were short staffed.

‘Hopefully it will end soon – we want to be back in service. I don’t think it’s great for us or the public.’

He said his unit preferred when they could choose either to be vaccinated or test weekly for COVID.

‘We love our jobs, we just want to do them. Just last month, we were such heroes and so essential to the city,’ he said, referring to the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

‘That’s New York… what have you done for me lately?’ he said.

” Just last month, we were such heroes and so essential to the city”

Captain Charles Saladis,  Ladder 18 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side

Others showed up for work but were sent home, including one female firefighter from the Bronx’s Engine 38, and an entire crew from Engine 243 in Brooklyn.

One firefighter from Engine 15 in the Lower East Side showed up thinking he had been granted a religious exemption, only to be told it hadn’t come through and he now won’t be paid.

Last week, five police unions warned that the city was ‘completely unprepared’ for the shortage of 5,500 cops.

De Blasio is doubling down on the mandate, telling firefighters and cops 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.

” Just last month, we were such heroes and so essential to the city…hopefully it will end soon – we want to be back in service. I don’t think it’s great for us or the public”

Captain Charles Saladis of Ladder 18 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side

‘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,’ he said at his briefing on Monday.

Earlier this weekend, FDNY Commissioner Nigro lambasted those who had called out sick to avoid missing out on pay.

‘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’.

De Blasio told them on October 20 that they would lose pay starting November 1. FDNY union bosses on Monday morning said that some firefighters had chosen to retire early rather than be forced into getting the shot.

‘This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. We’re not clear how many fire companies will be closed today, we expect dozens.

‘We’re here today because of a mandate that was put on members with nine days to make a life changing decision,’ Uniformed Firefighters Association’s Andrew Ansbro said at a press conference on Monday morning.

As of Monday morning 91% of the city’s 325,000 employees were vaccinated, leaving around 29,000 unvaccinated.

Many have filed for exemptions, according to de Blasio and fire and police chiefs.

But those who are refusing out of choice say they feel like they’re being treated coldly by the city they have worked for decades to protect.

‘Heroes last year, fired this year, ‘ was how one union referred to the mandate on Monday.

Among them are 5,500 NYPD officers, 3,560 firefighters and EMTs, and 1,620 workers from the Department of Sanitation, whose absence on the city’s increasingly violent streets will be felt most sorely.

There are growing fears over how those shortages will play out in 911 response times, officer man-power, EMT and ambulance capabilities and street cleaning.

On Friday, five police unions signed a sweeping call for de Blasio to quickly implement emergency measures to try to fill the shortages and offset potential chaos.

‘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,’ the joint letter said.

Pat Lynch, President of the Police Benevolent Association in New York City, said: ‘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.

‘Now cops and New Yorkers are all wondering: what exactly will happen when the vaccine deadline strikes?’

On Sunday, he claimed the number of workers who have yet to show proof of vaccination is inflated because their exemption requests are still being processed.

‘The vast majority of City workers, 91%, stepped up to put the health and safety of their city first and got vaccinated,’ de Blasio tweeted.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a Congress member for the borough’s of Brooklyn and Staten Island said accused the Mayor’s Office of misleading the public by saying that no ‘firehouses’ were closed while failing to add that ‘many are operating at half capacity due to offline companies.’

The fire department has said it was prepared to close up to 20% of its fire companies and have 20% fewer ambulances in service while also changing schedules, canceling vacations and turning to outside EMS providers to make up for expected staffing shortages.

On Sunday, a message was sent through email as nearly 350 potential volunteer firefighters were tagged.

‘Good morning all,’ the email read. ‘We need to start identifying members of the service who are active volunteer firemen in both Long Island and Upstate counties in anticipation of the impending shortage for the FDNY due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

‘On a voluntary only basis operations is looking to have qualified members on standby to backfill firehouses if necessary.

De Blasio said the sanitation department will move to 12-hour shifts, as opposed to the usual 8-hour shifts, and begin working Sundays to ensure trash doesn’t pile up.

Vaccination rates for the city’s fire and sanitation departments jumped significantly on Friday as workers rushed to meet the deadline for the mandate and an extra incentive: Workers who got a shot by Friday will receive $500.

Last week, hundreds of city workers took to the streets to protest. A rally was held outsider of the mayor’s official residence at Gracie Mansion.

In protest of the mandate hundreds of New York City firefighters took sick leave on Friday instead of complying with De Blasio’s deadline for all city workers to be vaccinated or be placed on unpaid leave.

Announcing the mandate, Mayor de Blasio issued an ultimatum requiring workers to get at least one COVID shot by 9am Monday morning or be furloughed and be sent home.

Meanwhile, nationwide Covid-related infections and fatalities in the US have dropped to the lowest levels recorded since April 2021.

About 191million Americans have been fully vaccinated – nearly 58 percent of the population

On September 1 America was averaging 49.9 cases per 100,000 but as of Wednesday, this figure has dropped to 21.2 cases per 100,000.


Start the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.