FDNY Denies Firehouse Closed Due to De Blasio Vaccine Mandate After Banner Draws Attention

New York City's fire department has refuted a banner's claim that a firehouse closed because of Mayor Bill de Blasio's vaccine mandate.

The banner, which was hung outside the Ladder 174 firehouse in Brooklyn, said the firehouse was "closed due to de Blasio mandate." An image of the banner began circulating on social media and sparked comments about the consequences of requiring first responders to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but the department denied the message was true.

Frank Dwyer, the department's deputy commissioner for public information and external affairs, told Newsweek the banner was taken down and was not allowed to be put up in the first place. It's unclear who was responsible for hanging it.

"The department has not closed any firehouses," said city Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro in a statement. "Irresponsible bogus sick leave by some of our members is creating a danger for New Yorkers and their fellow Firefighters. They need to return to work or risk the consequences of their actions."

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— Joe Borelli (@JoeBorelliNYC) November 1, 2021

De Blasio's vaccine mandate requires all city employees to choose between getting vaccinated against the coronavirus or risk losing their job. The mandate went into effect on Monday, and the majority of employees have chosen to get vaccinated, including 82 percent of the fire department, according to the FDNY.

However, the department is still seeing thousands of people calling out sick since the week started. About 2,000 employees have been out on medical leave this week, according to Dwyer, and Nigro said at a Monday news conference that many people were protesting the vaccine mandate.

"If you're sick, you're sick. It's a dangerous job. I get it. If you're not sick, I want to see you back at work," Nigro said at the conference. "Once the members come to their senses and stop using medical leave improperly, they can help out not only the citizens of the city but their brothers and sisters who are staffing these units."

While Nigro expressed concerns about public safety amid workers calling out sick because of the mandate, de Blasio and city Police Commissioner Dermot Shea downplayed the impact. De Blasio said public safety has not been compromised, and Shea told NY1 his department didn't have to change shifts to ensure enough coverage.

Shea called the current situation "status quo" and noted that although the number of officers out on unpaid leave has nearly tripled since Monday, it's a minuscule percentage of the total force.

Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro criticized the mandate, calling it a "haphazard way" to run a life-saving public service. Ansbro told WCBS he expected dozens of fire companies to shut down but added that resources and staff will be redistributed so firehouses don't have to close. Instead of multiple units at each firehouse, they could be down to one unit.

"They're not pointing the finger at the firefighter they work with that decided not to get the vaccine. Some of them didn't want the vaccine either, but they had to comply because they couldn't live without the paycheck," Ansbro told WCBS.

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The New York Fire Department says it has not closed any firehouses because of the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, despite a banner claiming one was closed in Brooklyn, above. Joe Borelli/Twitter