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NYC firefighters union protests COVID-19 vaccine order ahead of deadline

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NYC firefighters union protests COVID-19 vaccine order ahead of deadline
City officials say that almost 70% of the FDNY's 17,000 workers are vaccinated, and Mayor Bill de Blasio says he's confident the department will handle any manpower shortages. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A New York City firefighters union was expected to stage a protest against the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate at the home of Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday, a day before unvaccinated firefighters begin to be placed on unpaid leave.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all city workers, including police and firefighters, must be vaccinated. If they don't receive their first shots by Friday, they will be put on leave.

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Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro told WCBS-TV that forcing firefighters who haven't received the vaccine away from their jobs endangers the city.

"I'm assuming the commissioner [Daniel Nigro] is telling the mayor, 'We got this,'" Ansbro said. "I'm telling you, you're wrong."

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Ansbro told Fox News Radio Thursday that the mandate could force as many as 40% of New York City firehouses to close. He suggested that the staffing shortages will likely delay emergency response times.

Nigro, who estimated that about 20% of firehouses face closure, said the department has been preparing for such shortages by canceling vacations, requiring overtime and putting employees with desk jobs back into the field.

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"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," Nigro said, according to Gothamist.

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"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."

City officials say that almost 70% of the FDNY's 17,000 workers are vaccinated, and de Blasio says he's confident that the department will handle manpower shortages.

"These are very agile organizations used to dealing with crises, used to dealing with natural disasters," de Blasio said Wednesday, according to Gothamist."They'd know plenty about how to make the right moves to keep everything going."

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