NYC vaccine mandate: Police, fire unions warn of possible staffing 'crisis' as deadline looms

NYC vaccine mandate: Police, fire unions warn of possible staffing 'crisis' as deadline looms

October 28, 2021

FDNY firefighter: COVID vaccine mandate will close down 40% of NYC firehouses

FDNY Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro shares the consequences of forcing a vaccination mandate.

New York City’s first responders are grappling with a potential new reality as a result of the city-issued vaccine mandate, with the fire department revealing it will need to close as much as 20% of its fire companies and will have 20% fewer ambulances to run calls. 

The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) announced the potential shortages on Wednesday when the New York Police Department (NYPD) was also pushing for more employee vaccinations as the mandate deadline looms. 

As of Wednesday, 75% of NYPD personnel and 68% of FDNY workers were vaccinated, city officials said. 

In a statement provided to The Associated Press on Wednesday night, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the FDNY would “use all means at our disposal, including mandatory overtime, mutual aid from other EMS providers, and significant changes to the schedules of our members to ensure continuity of operations.”

A spokesperson for the NYPD did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request seeking comment, but told The Associated Press: “We will be prepared for any changes in personnel due to the mandate.”

According to the New York Post, 75% of vaccinated personnel within the NYPD – the largest police force in the country – consists of 63% of police officers who work the streets of the city. An estimated 6,000 remain unvaccinated, according to the report. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered Big Apple firefighters, police officers and the majority of other city workers to receive at least one shot by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29. Those city workers who did so would be paid $500 bonuses, he said. 

Those who chose not to get vaccinated by Friday’s deadline would be placed on leave without pay beginning Monday. An FDNY firefighter who spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity out of fear of repercussions said FDNY regulation dictates that those placed on leave without pay for more than 30 days are required to “turn in their badges.”  

“Essentially forced to resign,” the source said. 

At the time of his announcement, on Oct. 20, de Blasio estimated 46,000 city workers were unvaccinated. 

Unions representing both departments have filed separate lawsuits against the city. One Wednesday, FDNY Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro warned of potentially “inevitable,” “irrefutable” repercussions from the mandate, and stressed the “catastrophic” manpower and staffing shortage that could come as a result. 

“I don’t think the mayor understands what’s going to happen on November 1st,” Ansbro said during a Wednesday press conference. “You’re going to see dozens and dozens of firehouses closed. You’re going to see response times climb. It is inevitable. Lives are going to be lost. That is irrefutable.”

NYPD officers wear masks in Times Square. 
(Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Also on Wednesday, a New York judge refused a city police union’s request to delay the vaccine mandate. Judge Lizette Colon also set a Nov. 12 court date for city officials to defend the mandate against the Police Benevolent Association’s (PBA) lawsuit, which seeks to have it deemed illegal.

In a statement posted on the PBA’s Twitter, union president Patrick Lynch said Colon’s ruling “sets the city up for a real crisis.”

“The haphazard rollout of this mandate has created chaos in the NYPD,” Lynch wrote, in part. “This not only violates police officers’ rights – it will inevitably result in fewer cops available to protect our city.”

Lynch added: “New Yorkers should know who to blame for any shortfall in city services: Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Shea and the other bureaucrats who are putting politics before public health and public safety.”

Firefighters’ union members plan to protest the mandate on Thursday morning. 

Fox News’ Ben Evansky contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press. 

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