Savannah Hulsey Pointer, FISM News
New York City authorities have had to shutter 26 of its fire department companies as of Saturday due to widespread staffing shortages.
The New York Post reported that the shortages are being caused by firefighters’ objection to the city-wide vaccine mandates put on city workers. The Post referenced “furious elected officials,” who called the firefighter’s decision to take time off work rather than take a forced medical treatment “unconscionable” and that the decision could have “catastrophic consequences.”
Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro voiced his frustration with the lack of firefighters over the weekend, saying that the department “has not closed any firehouses” and threatened consequences if firefighters don’t return to duty:
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.”
However, Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY-11), who has had five companies temporarily shuttered in her district, said the blame sits squarely on NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s shoulders.
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!
— Nicole Malliotakis (@NMalliotakis) October 30, 2021
The shutdowns are a reaction to the unbending will of NY City Hall to enforce vaccine mandates. After weeks of protests and lawsuits, the mandate for city workers began on Monday. The jab-resisting firefighters have voiced a number of reasons as to why they object to the vaccine, including many who have said that they have natural immunity from already having the virus.
As worried as many New Yorkers are about the problem now, it appears that it could get a lot worse. According to the Post, city fire officials said that they could close as many as 20 percent of its NYC companies due to staffing. The current shutdown has only caused closures of 7.6 percent of the city’s 341 engine and ladder companies.
The council’s committee on fire and emergency management chair said the number was “unconscionable,” indicating he believes the city needs to give ground to allow it’s first responders back in the field:
The firefighters who are unable to work have all been tested within the week and are not COVID positive, and I doubt New Yorkers care about the vaccine status of the person applying defibrillators to their chest.
Citizens rallied outside of Ladder Company 149 in Dyker Heights just days ago to support the firefighters there who would willingly work, but would not allow forced vaccinations. An NYPD spokeswoman attempted to calm the people of New York saying that they “have contingency plans in place if necessary, and there will not be any shortages in any commands. There will be no reduction in police services.”
FDNY isn’t the only group to fend off staffing shortages though. In addition to the headline-grabbing Southwest airline “sickout,” the Greenville News reported that both General Electric and General Electric and Lockheed Martin have employees taking to the streets over company-wide vaccine mandates. Journalist Sharyl Attkisson also reported that 22 U.S. F-22 military pilots and 16 crew members for B-52s have walked off the job due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Alongside concerns about medical freedom, some studies have shown that there could be room for concern over the actual effectiveness of the vaccine. The Hudson Valley Post reported that as of late September, New New York State Department of Health is aware of 78,416 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in vaccinated individuals. Of those cases, 5,555 were COVID hospitalizations among fully-vaccinated people in New York State.