Vax mandate could force FDNY companies to close, as NYPD faces cop shortage
The FDNY is preparing to shutter as many as 20 percent of all Big Apple fire companies — and take an equal portion of its ambulances off the streets — ahead of the impending deadline for all city workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
On Wednesday, the FDNY said that just 65 percent of its firefighters, fire officers and EMS workers had been vaccinated despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s order that all city workers receive at least one dose or face suspension without pay on Monday.
“The Department must manage the unfortunate fact that a portion of our workforce has refused to comply with a vaccine mandate for all city employees,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a statement later Wednesday.
“We will use all means at our disposal, including mandatory overtime, mutual aid from other EMS providers and significant changes to the schedules of our members,” Nigro continued. “We will ensure the continuity of operations and safety of all those we have sworn oaths to serve.”
The commissioner didn’t assess the likely result of the potential moves, but one FDNY firefighter offered a grim prediction: “People will die in this city.”
Last week, de Blasio announced a 5 p.m. Friday deadline, but that’s only to receive $500 in incentive pay for getting a shot — which gives hesitant workers one last weekend of wiggle room to reconsider before being taken off the payroll.
The widespread resistance by firefighters “is going to take about 40 percent of us out” and could lead to response times of “seven minutes or more,” an FDNY member suggested.
In fiscal year 2021, the emergency response time average was five minutes and 23 seconds, while response time for structure fires was an average of four minutes, 52 seconds.
“With a heart attack, seven or eight minutes makes a big difference.” the source said. “And fires, an eight-minute difference is one bedroom or the whole house. Or in row houses, an eight-minute difference is one house or the whole block!”
“This is no joke,” the source said.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted Wednesday evening that 75 percent of the NYPD had been vaccinated.
But that includes just 63 percent of street cops, with 37 percent — around 6,000 officers — still unvaccinated, sources said.
One Manhattan cop said the expected results of benching patrol officers for ignoring the vaccine mandate were predictable.
“It’s an easy formula: Less cops equal more crime,” the source said.
A Brooklyn cop also noted that about 20 percent of the NYPD was sidelined by COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic.
“That was very rough and now the numbers are higher,” the source said. “I don’t know how they’re going to pull this off.”
On Wednesday, Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Lizette Colon turned down a request by the Police Benevolent Association, the NYPD’s largest union, to issue a temporary restraining order against the vaccine mandate, which was first reported by The Post.
The PBA vowed to appeal the ruling on Thursday.
The Uniformed Firefighters Association was also planning an anti-mandate protest rally outside the mayor’s official Manhattan residence, Gracie Mansion, on Thursday morning.
As of Wednesday, the NYPD was still developing contingency plans, sources said, with one saying that cops and detectives would have to be shifted around and assigned to radio cars “just to answer 911 calls.”
“A possible scenario for Sunday night is [unvaccinated] cops at the Halloween detail will turn into pumpkins at midnight and have to walk away from their assignments,” another source said.
But the FDNY has ordered all its members to work “straight tours” as scheduled beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, meaning firefighters can no longer exchange shifts among themselves, and they will also be scheduled to work overtime to guarantee staffing, sources said.
“They’re forcing us to work overtime,” one firefighter said.
“That means we’ll lose another 10 percent who get injured or sick from 80-hour work weeks.”
All FDNY vacations set to start Monday or later have also been canceled and anyone who wants to take their accrued comp time has to file for retirement to avoid being suspended, sources said.
Any FDNY members who are suspended for more than 30 days will be forced to resign, sources said.
An internal NYPD list circulated on Wednesday showed that the 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, had 48.2 percent of its cops unvaccinated, making it the least-vaccinated station house in the city, sources said.
The 100th Precinct in Far Rockaway, Queens, was close behind with 47.8 percent unvaccinated.
At the other end of the spectrum, the 5th Precinct in Manhattan’s Chinatown had just 19.3 percent of its cops unvaccinated.
The NYPD plans to make vaccines available in precinct houses over the weekend, with 30 additional nurses assigned to its Medical Division to administer the shots, sources said.