Twenty-six firehouses around New York City were reportedly shut Saturday because of staff shortages triggered by the refusal of some firefighters to get a city-mandated COVID-19 vaccine.
Saturday’s temporary closures represented 7.6% of the city’s 341 engine and ladder companies, the New York Post reported.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., blamed the closure — five of the New York Fire Department firehouses are in her Staten Island district — on Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“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!” she tweeted.
FDNY spokesman Jim Long said the closings are not permanent, describing the companies as “temporarily out of service,” and asserting the department was shifting firefighters to units where they were needed, the New York Post reported.
“The situation remains fluid. We hire manpower to get the company back in service or relocate other units to the area for coverage,” Long said.
NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit has requested the help of volunteer firefighters from Long Island and upstate to back fill the lost positions, according to an email obtained by the New York Post.
Fire officials said last week they were prepared to close as much as 20% of the companies citywide.
The FDNY’s vaccination rate is 72% for firefighters — and 77% agency-wide — at the end of Friday, the city’s deadline for workers to get at least one dose of the vaccine, the news outlet reported, citing data from City Hall. Nearly 4,000 FDNY employees remained unvaccinated.
The city mandate is expected to be enforced beginning Monday, and 26,600 city workers across all city agencies were still unvaccinated as of Friday night, the news outlet reported. Those who don’t have at least one jab will be suspended without pay.
The NYPD stood at 84% of personnel vaccinated, and the Sanitation Department was at 77%, the news outlet reported.
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