Firefighters taking sick leave in protest of vaccine mandate is ‘unacceptable’: commissioner

Local News
FDNY fire truck Brooklyn

An FDNY fire truck outside the Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn on April 17, 2020. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NEW YORK — As New York City’s vaccine mandate for municipal workers officially took effect Friday, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro condemned firefighters protesting the measure by using paid sick leave.

“The excessive sick leave … because of their anger at the vaccine mandate for all city employees is unacceptable,” Nigro said in a statement, adding that it’s “contrary to their oaths to serve.”

Nigro said the decision could “endanger the lives” of city residents.

All municipal workers were required to show proof of vaccination by 5 p.m. Friday, or be placed on unpaid leave starting Monday.

According to an FDNY official, many firefighters have chosen go on medical leave, which has put some companies temporarily out of service. However, the FDNY has not closed any firehouses.

“Despite these actions by some, the department will continue to respond to all calls for help that come our way,” Nigro said.

Uniformed EMS officers — part of the FDNY — are among the most-vaccinated first responders, at 90%. The head of an EMS officers union told the PIX11 Morning News that New Yorkers likely won’t feel an impact of any potential shortages in that group.

“I think the reduction in services is not going to be as bad as predicted,” said Vincent Variale, president of Uniformed EMS Officers Union FDNY, Local 3621. “We have always stepped up when called upon to serve the public, in every crisis situation. We will not let the public down. When people call 911, EMS will be there to save their lives.”

Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio stood firm on his decision to enact the mandate, saying he believed public safety agencies would be able to operate smoothly.

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