The head of a New York City firefighters’ union has attacked Bill de Blasio for not giving his members enough time to decide whether to get vaccinated or not, accusing the mayor of turning his back on the city’s essential workers.
Around 2,300 firefighters were off work on Monday, as a rule enforcing COVID vaccination. Monday’s deadline applied to all municipal workers, ranging from police officers to parks employees.
It was the latest vaccine mandate to be imposed by the city or state that does not allow virus testing as an alternative.
The city did not report any major problem on Monday due to the staffing shortages, but angry essential workers protested in Manhattan against the rule.
‘When we go to calls, we don’t judge and say are you worth saving?’ said one protester, speaking to Fox News on Monday. ‘But now our livelihoods and our families well being is a question, are we worth it? We never asked that question during the pandemic.
‘Now we are being thrown to the trash like garbage. It’s not right.’
Tensions are running high in the city and when Kamala Harris, who was in New York City on Monday evening for a gala at Carnegie Hall, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, ran into a group of angry anti-mandate protesters, she was heckled.
In Staten Island on Monday, five demonstrators were reportedly arrested for blocking sanitation trucks from leaving the station, in protest against the mandate.
Andrew Ansbro, president of the FDNY-Firefighters Association, told Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham on Monday night that they were not anti-vaccine, but they did not support a vaccine mandate.
He criticized the de Blasio administration for their timeframe, describing it as unworkable.
Scroll down for video
Around 2,300 firefighters were off work on Monday, as a rule enforcing COVID vaccination. Monday’s deadline applied to all municipal workers, ranging from police officers to parks employees. Twelve firefighters from Ladder 29 in Mott Haven, in the Bronx, were sent home on Monday after reporting for duty unvaccinated
Daniel Nigro, the fire commissioner, said 18 of the departments’ 350 companies, or five per cent, were out of service on Monday. The Uniformed Firefighter’s Association tweeted a photo of a protest sign and unused uniform on Monday
An NYPD firefighter is seen on Monday walking off the job, for refusing to obey a vaccine mandate
An estimated 2,300 firefighters disobeyed the vaccine mandate in New York
The firefighters union said their members wanted to work, but would not be rushed into vaccination
The firefighters’ union president said many of their members had already caught COVID so did not want to be vaccinated
Firefighters were joined by other emergency service workers in walking off the job on Monday
It is unclear how many of the firefighters who walked out on Monday (pictured) will lose their jobs, and how many will find a way around the rules
‘When you tell someone they have nine days to make a decision for a vaccination or lose their job, they don’t want to work with you,’ he said.
‘Teachers were given over a month, and corrections does not have to make the decision until December 1st.
‘So once again, the mayor is showing that people that care for criminals have more rights than people who care for the average New Yorker.’
Ansbro said that he was unable to confirm the figure of 2,300 firefighters calling in sick over the mandate, because the fire department did not share their data with the union.
Andrew Ansbro, head of the Uniformed Firefighter’s Association, on Monday night said that Bill de Blasio was rushing the process
People protesting New York City’s new mandate for all city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 gather across the street from Carnegie Hall on Monday night, where many city leaders plus Kamala Harris were gathered for a 30th anniversary event for Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network
Protesters yelled their criticism of de Blasio, Joe Biden and vaccine mandates on Monday night
Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, has sparked anger by ordering that all all municipal workers, ranging from police officers to parks employees, be vaccinated by November 1
Daniel Nigro, the fire commissioner, said 18 of the departments’ 350 companies, or five per cent, were out of service on Monday.
Dozens of other companies remained open but understaffed, he said.
The city said no firehouses – which house more than one company – were entirely closed.
Ansbro told Ingraham: ‘You can’t claim that the unvaccinated firefighters are causing a staffing shortage because this morning you were sending them home.’
He pointed out that the fire department has many people out on sick leave due to firefighting injuries, and some were off sick because they had just had their first jab.
And he insisted they were not against the vaccine itself.
‘You know, there are people that claim that we are anti-vaccine,’ he told Ingraham.
‘I was vaccinated the first day and I educate my members to the best of my ability about the vaccine.
‘But from the beginning, a lot of members didn’t feel they need it because they were already infected previously.
‘We are not anti-vaccine but anti-mandate. We just want our day in court.
‘We want to have the ability to be heard.’
In the 12 days from when the mandate was first announced and Monday’s deadline, the vaccination rate increased dramatically at many city agencies.
Protesters in Staten Island against the vaccine mandate were arrested for blocking the exit of a sanitation truck
A large police presence was seen on Staten Island to protect the sanitation workers
Protesters in Staten Island on Monday blocked a sanitation truck from leaving the depot, in anger at vaccine mandates
At the city’s Emergency Medical Service, which operates ambulances, the vaccination rate jumped to 87 per cent from 61 per cent, The New York Times reported.
FDNY VACCINE MANDATE SHORTAGES ON MONDAY
OUT OF SERVICE COMPANIES
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
UNVACCINATED STAFF SENT HOME
Engine 15, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Engine 38, the Bronx
Ladder 29, Mott Haven, Bronx
Engine 219, Barclay’s Center, Brooklyn
The Sanitation Department’s vaccination rate jumped 20 percentage points, to 82 per cent from 62 per cent.
The adult vaccination rate across New York City is at 86 per cent.
Since Monday’s deadline for about 160,000 city workers was first announced on October 20, more than 22,400 city employees have received their first dose.
As of Monday morning 91 per cent 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.
The police department, which employs about 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees, reported an 84 per cent vaccination rate as of Monday morning.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said only 34 uniformed officers and 40 civilian members are on unpaid leave for refusing to get the shot, though thousands of others with the department remain on the job as they wait for their exemption requests to be reviewed.
‘We expect as those cases are reviewed and people are either granted or denied, certainly in the case of denied, people will choose to get the vaccine,’ Shea said.
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.
Meanwhile, nationwide COVID-related infections and fatalities in the US have dropped to the lowest levels recorded since April 2021.
About 191 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – nearly 58 per cent 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.
Firefighter equipment lies discarded at the Ladder Company 11 on the Lower East Side on Monday as staffing shortages left the FDNY scrambling
Nine firefighters from Engine 243 in Bath Beach, Brooklyn, showed up to work on Monday but all were sent home because they are unvaccinated. Now, the firehouse is closed, according to the union
Five firefighters from Engine 219 next to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn were sent home on Monday because they showed up to work unvaccinated. A fully vaccinated firefighter who was there told DailyMail.com the situation is ‘wearing on the guys’
More than 86 percent of the adult population of New York City has had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine