As Biden’s vaccine mandate looms, firefighter warns: people will die

All New York City workers have been mandated to have their first COVID jab by Monday, November 1. 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

Some 20 percent of New York City fire and ambulance stations are expected to close their doors next week, when Governor Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandate comes into effect. One firefighter has already warned that in consequence: “People will die.”

All city workers, including emergency services operatives, have been ordered by Mayor de Blasio to get their first dose by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29 to receive a $500 bonus, with anyone still unvaccinated beyond November 1st being barred from working.

New York city’s fire department announced Wednesday that just 65 percent of its firefighters and ambulance workers have been vaccinated so far. The remainder have been called on to do overtime to bridge the gap, but the service will still need to close one in five stations due to lack of staff, the New York Post has reported.

“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.

“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. We will ensure the continuity of operations and safety of all those we have sworn oaths to serve,” he added.

Although Nigro gave no estimate of the likely fallout, one firefighter told the Post: “People will die in this city.”

Another estimated that the average response time would rise significantly. In fiscal year 2021, the average emergency response time was five minutes and 23 seconds, while the average structure fire response time was four minutes, 52 seconds.

But the mandate is expected to take some 40 percent of staff offline, leading to response times of “seven minutes or more,” an FDNY member told the Post.

“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.”

New York City’s police department has also been hard hit by the mandate, as over a third of the city’s street officers will be sidelined come Monday.

“It’s an easy formula: Less cops equal more crime,” one cop told the Post.

Another noted that the first wave of COVID meant that the officer workforce dropped by 20 percent. “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.”

Both services are planning on shifting the remaining workforce around in an attempt to close the gap, but workers have warned that that will cause further strain, with vaccinated members likely to end up going off sick. The remaining firefighters have been informed that they won’t be able to swap shifts among themselves, and will also be scheduled mandatory overtime. All holidays scheduled to start after Monday have also been cancelled.

“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.”

Meanwhile the NYPD is looking at putting detectives in patrol cars to answer 911 calls, although contingency plans are still being finalized.

Vaccine mandates are likely to exacerbate a trend for walking away from jobs already underway in the States. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the quit rate among American workers has risen steadily month on month over the last recorded quarter, reaching a high point of 4.3 million resignations in August, the last month for which there are figures. By comparison, the rate in August 2020 was 2.9 million.