MANHATTAN, N.Y—Thousands of New York firefighters gathered on Thursday afternoon outside Gracie Mansion, the residence of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, to protest against the vaccine mandates.
De Blasio recently imposed a vaccine mandate on all city workers, saying that it’s for the safety of the city.
The featured speakers at the rally made their voices heard across more than two blocks filled with active firefighters, retired firefighters, and other supporters.
“Not anti-vaccine, just anti-mandate,” many of the featured speakers said.
Some of the other supporters were asked to remove political signs that weren’t focused on the main cause.
The deadline is Friday at 5 p.m. Most of them want to keep working, but some would rather retire than take the jabs.
The unions have not been able to reach a final agreement with the mayor. The only accord arrived at was that the firefighters who will be placed on leave will not have their medical and union benefits removed for at least 30 days.
‘I Already Had COVID-19’
Sean Fitzgerald of Ladder 174 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, has been serving in the New York Fire Department for 16 years.
He doesn’t want to take the vaccine because he already got COVID-19 in February and thinks his natural immunity is more than enough to fend off the virus.
“Pfizer, it just came out that after six months it loses 47 percent of its efficacy. So why am I going to take a vaccine when I already had COVID-19.
“I just had my antibodies checked this past weekend … so I don’t need a vaccine to help my body ward off such a virus.
“If this virus is so deadly, so contagious, then why are the people that are put into power and elected into power to run our nation—especially during times of crisis—why did they exempt themselves from the shot? Shouldn’t they be the first ones to get the shot?
“I think that the industrial pharmaceutical complex is larger than anything else, and it trumps all. And what I would like to see, I would like an inquiry into every elected official’s investment accounts to see their holdings. Are they holding Moderna [stocks]? When did they purchase Moderna? Are they still holding it? When did they buy Pfizer, J&J? Because there is a monetary component to them to this from their side.”
He thinks that there “absolutely” is a link between the politicians and Big Pharma. “It’s common sense” he added, “why else would they be pushing this vaccine?”
“Dr. Fauci repeatedly tells the country to ‘trust the science.’ I feel that natural immunity and the development of antibodies are not being accepted as ‘science.’ It is absolutely contradictory because it does not further the narrative.”
The city’s previous policy was to require weekly COVID-19 testing, but that has now been terminated and replaced with the vaccine mandate.
“We just wrapped up a month of self-testing in the fire house, weekly testing. And [in] the numbers that came out two weeks ago, 6,000 tests were administered and only 54 were positive.
“Unfortunately, we lost one firefighter to COVID-19. But there’s over 10,000 uniformed members. And we were operating 24/7, 365 days. We never worked once via zoom conference from our homes. We responded to hundreds of thousands of runs, interacting directly with the public, the infected public, in their homes.”
He clarified that seven other deaths reported in the media were not firefighters, but emergency medical services members under the same umbrella of the FDNY.
‘No Money in Natural Immunity’
One firefighter who works for the department at an administrative level told The Epoch Times under the condition of anonymity that he believes there is an effort to push the vaccine for monetary reasons.
When asked if he believes there is a connection between politicians mandating the vaccine and pharmaceutical companies, he replied “absolutely, and it shows just the marketing ability of the mainstream media.
“I think there’s no money in natural immunity. It’s all about follow[ing] the money. And if the Pfizer and Moderna shots, their efficacy is dropping 22 percent every 30 days, anybody that took the shot five months ago is nearing zero protection anyway. It’s giving them a false sense of security,” he said.
‘We Went From Heroes to Zeros’
Firefighter Michael Salcedo said: “You can’t force people to take something that they don’t want to take. We have natural immunity, which is stronger than this vaccine. Let us have the choice of saying yes or no. It’s our right.”
Salcedo said that if the mandate is not overturned, he and his peers will walk out.
During the pandemic, they were mandated to work and they all performed their duties.
“We were mandated to work and we all came to work and we did the right thing. And we were needed then and we were applauded then. And now we went from heroes to zeros. Now they just want to get rid of us because they want to mandate something that we don’t believe in. It’s our choice to say yes or no, it’s not their choice to tell us what to put in our bodies.
“You could still spread COVID and get COVID and get sick while you’re vaccinated. So to me, that’s not a good vaccine,” Salcedo noted.
Many ‘Are Going to Retire’
Steve Rogers is a 38-year veteran that works for Ladder 1.
“These mandates are ridiculous. Most of the guys that aren’t vaccinated have the antibodies and they could be tested weekly. But instead, the city and the mayor want to push for the mandates, and make guys go on leave without pay,” he said.
“Many guys are going to retire and a lot of guys are going to take leave without pay.
“It’s gonna leave the fire department very short-staffed and you’re gonna lose all the senior men and the senior officers, which is very dangerous.
“If all these members go on leave without pay, they’re going to have to close multiple, multiple firehouses every night, which is a danger to the city, as far as fires. Also, as far as EMS runs, people call for a heart attack, and instead of people responding within five minutes, they’ll be there in 20 minutes. Very, very dangerous.”
Rogers clarified that he personally is not planning to retire.
‘Freedom is Paramount’
Kieran Burke is a retired fireman that worked for the city for 23 years.
“I’m here today to support my fellow city workers, and the citizens of this city, and those that come to visit this city. Because their safety is going to be in serious peril if they go through with this and arbitrarily fire thousands and thousands of highly trained and experienced emergency service professionals, teachers, nurses, sanitation professionals, and so on.
“I am personally vaccinated, my choice was that I was going to get vaccinated. But each person has a different setting in their lives that dictate what they do medically and otherwise.
“This is the United States of America. Freedom is paramount. This whole entire nation is predicated on freedom,” Burke added.
Right to Union Representation
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro told media outlets earlier in the day that he had instructed his members to report for duty regardless of vaccination status, defying the mandate.
He told The Epoch Times that the government is not allowing natural immunity to be a factor in the vaccine mandates.
“You will not find a doctor that disagrees with natural immunity. Everyone may have a separate opinion, but up until a few weeks ago, the CDC said you should not get a vaccination within 90 days of being infected.”
Ansbro represents about 8,400 active firefighters and 11,000 retired firefighters.
“No one will tell you that this vaccine stops you from getting infected. I was vaccinated the first day, my wife was vaccinated. My wife contracted COVID and gave it to me, this mandate does not stop the spread of the Delta variant or a lot of the variants. This vaccine is not 100 percent effective.”
“We believe our members have a right to choose. And we also believe that our members have a right to be represented by their union and tell the mayor, ‘you have to sit down with us and negotiate the terms of this,’” Ansbro said.
He said that about 45 percent of the force had not been vaccinated a few weeks ago and about 70 percent had contracted the virus at some point and gained natural immunity. For those that had not gained natural immunity or gotten vaccinated, he recommended that they get the shot.
‘The Safest Thing to Do Would Be to Test’
Uniformed Firefighters Association Vice President Bobby Eustace said all they want is to have a choice.
“The amount of exposure that our members have had, combined with the amount of members that are vaccinated, and the number of members that are currently sick—there just really isn’t that much of a threat. And if you really wanted to keep people safe, you would test them. It’s not taboo anymore that vaccinated people get COVID,” Eustace said.
“And vaccinated people that have COVID can spread it to other people, both vaccinated unvaccinated, so the safest thing to do would be to test them, right? But we don’t do that because it costs a lot of money.”
“They issued one testing for one week of the fire department. They got about 45 to 60 members positive out of nearly 5,200 members.”
“A fraction was positive—a fraction—and they only tested the unvaccinated, not even the vaccinated, and then they stopped because the money was too much. What does that tell you?” Eustace said.
The Epoch Times reached out to the mayor’s office for comment.