2,000 FDNY Firefighters On Medical Leave Amid COVID-19 Vaccine Protests


Shaye Galletta Contributor
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More than 2,000 New York City firefighters have taken medical leave amid protests against the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal workers, NBC News reported Monday. 

Roughly 2,000 of FDNY’s 11,000 firefighters are taking medical leave amid protests against the COVID-19 mandate, which have recently exploded across the city. Democratic New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced on Oct. 20 that the vaccine mandate applied to all public employees and that the mandate did not feature a test-out option. According to NBC News, the unvaccinated firefighters and other city workers who refused the shot face sanctions starting Monday. 

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 28: People protest the Covid-19 vaccine mandate for municipal workers during a protest at Gracie Mansion on October 28, 2021, in New York City.

On Friday, an FDNY union protest drew hundreds to Gracie Mansion, the official residence of de Blasio. The president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, Andrew Ansbro said Friday at the protest that the FDNY has a “staffing shortage as it is.” (RELATED: NYC Firefighters Plan To Protest Mandates At Mayor De Blasio’s Home)

“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,” Ansbro added.

Republican New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis claimed Saturday that 26 FDNY stations had closed due to “Mayor de Blasio’s decision to lock unvaccinated firefighters out of work.” 

However, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro reportedly disputed Malliotakis’ claims and said the FDNY “has not closed any firehouses.” Nigro also said that firefighters taking medical leave were acting irresponsibly and that they should “return to work or risk the consequences of their actions.”

The 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, according to NBC New York.

The city reported Sunday that 80% of FDNY members and 75% of firefighters have received the COVID-19 vaccine.