New York City firefighters gathered outside Gracie Mansion, the home of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Thursday to protest the vaccine mandate.
The protest started around 11 a.m. and crowds were filled with FDNY, teachers, sanitation workers, and EMS. People were chanting “Let’s go Brandon!” and held signs reading “FDN-WHY MANDATE?”, “I AM VERY ANGRY”, and “WE WILL NOT COMPLY”.
The mandate de Blasio put in place will require all first responders in New York City to be vaccinated with at least the first dose by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29. If they choose not to get the shot, they will be put on unpaid leave next Monday.
City officials reported that approximately 75% of the NYPD and 68% of FDNY have been vaccinated against COVID-19. One unnamed FDNY officer told Fox News, “We worked through this pandemic”. “Many of us got sick at that time. There was no vaccination, we put our families at risk, we put ourselves at risk,” he said. “There’s no reason we should get this shot”.
Many are afraid of the consequences the mandate will have on the city. UFA President Andrew Ansbro claimed “They will be closing fire houses if you don’t have enough firefighters to staff them and that’s absolutely what’s going to happen if you send 30% of the fire department home”.
“The mayor should really avoid this upcoming catastrophe. This is really an absolutely unnecessary threat,” Ansbro warned.
If there is a shortage of first responders and FDNY staff, 20% fewer ambulances will be able to run calls and 20% fewer fire companies will be available.
Jonathan Vasquez, a NYC Department of Sanitation worker who participated in the protest, said “I’m on the chopping block come Monday”. “I’m not vaccinated, I’m not getting vaccinated and it’s for multiple reasons, most importantly freedom of choice, my body, my health”.
Unions for multiple NYC departments have tried to file lawsuits against the city over the mandates, but have been unsuccessful so far.
Teachers, police and other public employees across the country have been battling similar situations during the past few weeks.