The city gives firefighters one day to file for exemptions
Two NYC firefighters gave an update on the present situation of the FDNY under the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. Most alarming was an internal document indicating that on Nov. 3, there was only 55 percent of firetrucks available. The normal number, according to him, should be about 90 percent. “ENG,” short for engine, represents the firetrucks that have a water hose. “LAD,” short for ladder, represents the trucks that have a ladder. “My engine has about 25 guys, and of that, half of the guys went home,” said the firefighter, who now has less than 30 days before termination. On Wednesday, there were four fires that went above 3rd alarm in the city, according to the two firemen that were interviewed and the NYC Fire Wire app that gives alerts and updates on the fires in the city. Every subsequent alarm means that a fire is getting bigger or it’s persisting to the point that members on the scene need replacement. Two of the fires went up to the 4th alarm and one of them went to the 5th alarm. “It’s very unusual. It doesn’t happen often,” the firefighter said, showing the FireWire app. Most of the firemen want to keep working for the FDNY, but are not allowed. “A lot of guys are looking for a side job, some guys are looking to retire, not by will, but because they feel like they’ve been forced. “They want to work. My company is out of service today as we speak,” he continued. “A lot of guys have to show up every tour and say ‘we’re here ready to go and you guys sent us home.’ They’re not allowed inside the firehouse building,” the firefighter said. He noted that he did a lot of research on his own about COVID-19 vaccines and feels that they haven’t been thoroughly tested. “I listen to doctors. I personally don’t want to take an experimental vaccine. I already had COVID and I have natural immunity. I also was tested for antibodies as well. So my natural immunity is working. I got sick at least twice from last year till now and I have recovered 100 percent every time by myself without any vaccines,” he said. Another fireman said on Wednesday afternoon that “there were three multiple alarms today in the city.” “That doesn’t normally happen. That’s a direct result of manpower shortages. So a third alarm, fourth alarm, a fifth alarm, all in 12 hours. That’s a direct result of manpower shortages. And the manpower shortages are a direct result of de Blasio’s mandate, there’s no going around it. Those fires don’t go more than a room or a mattress or anything other [than] a small fire, but now they’re [going through] entire floors of buildings.” Some of the comments in the app blamed de Blasio’s mandates for the fire, while others asked for civility. Last Friday, Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro predicted that dozens of Firehouses could close due to the mandates. “According to the city, there are no firehouses closed, but they’ll leave one member in the firehouse answering the phones, answering the door if someone knocks, and that counts as a firehouse being open. The companies are closed massively throughout the city. Thirty to 50 companies every tour, which is a huge number. Around the fourth alarm in Brooklyn today there were two engines closed in the first response ticket, there was one truck closed and there were multiple engines understaffed,” the fireman said. Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote on Twitter on Monday that no firehouses have been closed and that response times were normal. He recently imposed a vaccine mandate on all city workers, with no testing opt-out. The firemen were given until Monday to get the vaccine or be sent home on unpaid leave. The FDNY had already been short of staff since the pandemic began. About a week ago, according to the Fire Department Union leaders, about 30 to 35 percent hadn’t taken the vaccine, mostly citing natural immunity and religious objections. In a press conference on Thursday, they updated the number: 20 percent still haven’t taken it. But about 100 firefighters per day are now taking the vaccine, a daily 1 percent increase. Another update from the conference was that the city finally answered the Union’s demands at 7 p.m. on Thursday, giving them one day—which the leaders said is an unreasonable amount of time—to file their religious exemption and medical exemption applications, otherwise they will be sent home unpaid. The Union representation said that they thought that the unusually high, multiple alarms were a result of the cold season, and not related to de Blasio’s mandates. They also said that for a firehouse to be counted as open, at least four or five firemen need to be present.