NYC Shuttering Fire Companies Over Vaccine Refusal

The idiocy continues.

Speaking of firefighters losing their jobs for failing to comply with COVID-19 vaccination requirements, this from the NY Post:

The FDNY shuttered 26 fire companies citywide on Saturday due to staff shortages caused by the COVID-19 vaccination mandate, according to furious elected officials, who ripped the move as “unconscionable” — and warned it could have catastrophic consequences.

The shutdown came amid a pitched battle between City Hall, which on Monday will start enforcing a mandate that all city workers have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and jab-resisting firefighters, many reportedly saying they were already sick with the coronavirus and therefore have “natural immunity.”

Nicole Malliotakis (R-SI, Brooklyn) said 26 companies shuttered — five in her district — and laid the blame on  Mayor de Blasio.

“If someone dies due to a slower emergency response, it’s on Bill de Blasio and his overreaching mandates. I hope this fool fixes it ASAP!” she tweeted. Some residents rallied outside of the Ladder Company 149 in Dyker Heights to support the firefighters.

Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said the department “has not closed any firehouses.

Irresponsible bogus sick leave by some of our members is creating a danger for New Yorkers and their fellow Firefighters,” Nigro said. “They need to return to work or risk the consequences of their actions.”

No borough or neighborhood was spared, with the shuttered companies ranging from Engine Co. 55 in lower Manhattan, to Engine Co. 234 in Crown Heights, to Engine Co. 231 in Brownsville. Others included Ladder Co. 128 in Long Island City and Engine Co. 158 and Ladder Co. 78 on Staten Island, according to information provided by Malliotakis and Councilman Joe Borelli (R-SI), who cited the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Borelli said the list of 26 came from a FDNY alert dispatched to members.

It simply baffles me that people who will risk going into burning buildings—and who have surely had a dozen other vaccinations and gotten their kids vaccinated just to go to school—are throwing away their livelihood out of fear, principle, or political gesture. Not only is the mandate legal, it’s good policy.

Yet there are millions of people, not all of them morons, who think the injustice is that these people have to choose between getting a vaccine they don’t want and their jobs. For them, it’s de Blasio who’s the villain here.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. gVOR08 says:

    This is what happens in a country with FOX “News”. We can’t ban them, but we can shame them.

  2. Brother Bob says:

    I’m so old, I remember when The Radical Left used to have “My body, my choice” and “Keep your laws off of my body”
    It’s time like these that I wish that President Trump were still in office so that Lefties could still question the government

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Once again: good! MAGAts self-purging and opening up good paying jobs for better people to take, is a win all around. NYC will get an improved fire department.

  4. R. Dave says:

    Don’t just close the firehouses; fire the lot of them and explore every legal option to terminate their pensions. F*ck these people.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Yet there are millions of people, not all of them morons,

    The evidence says otherwise.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @Brother Bob:

    I’m so old, I remember when The Radical Left used to have “My body, my choice” and “Keep your laws off of my body”

    They’re simply not comparable. We’ve had vaccine mandates for more than a century now because we’ve long understood that people don’t have a right to spread diseases to others.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Brother Bob:
    You’ve demonstrated that the inability to reason is key to your position.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yet there are millions of people, not all of them morons,

    They are morons, and in addition, they’re assholes. Hold on, granny, I’ll just carry you safely down this ladder while I infect you with a disease that’ll kill you.

    These firefighters want to keep their jobs saving lives and risk lives at the same time, but nooooo, not morons. There’s a cat stuck in your tree? No problem, we’ll send an Ebola patient and a leper to help!

    Anyone who thinks this is a liberty issue has a notion of liberty that is pitifully juvenile and indescribably trivial.

  9. Mimai says:

    Forgive me if this has been discussed ad nauseum around here, but I wonder what folks think about the natural immunity position. That is, if someone has a documented history of COVID infection, should they be required to get vaccinated? Boosted?

    I realize that natural immunity wanes; so does vaccination, hence boosters. So for the sake of discussion, let’s focus on a person who got COVID less than 6 months ago vs. a person who got vaccinated less than 6 months ago.

    Also, if I may, please leave aside the political, cultural, etc baggage of this issue and focus only on the public health aspect, which is ideally what the policy makers are focusing on.

    Or, discard my framing entirely…I’m not the boss of you.

  10. Thomm says:

    @Mimai: Yes, they should since it has been shown to be very effective. I flip the question to, why shouldn’t they? The one person I am close to that had it got a shot as soon as he could. In his words, “after going through it once, I will do anything to avoid it again.” Most social media people that claim they have “natural immunity” to avoid the vaccine immediately trip my BS meter that has been honed through years of car sales.

  11. Hal_10000 says:


    One thing research has consistently shown is that post-infection vaccination is highly effective in building resistance, far more than just infection. Neither natural immunity nor single dose vaccination seem to be permanent. Whether this becomes a yearly thing or immunity gradually builds up has yet to be seen.

  12. Crusty Dem says:
  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Mimai: Why not? Your accepting the RW framing of ‘you’re not the boss of me’ or whatever TF they think is a reason to not get vaccinated. What valid argument is there for not getting vaxxed? Unless you have an honest medical reason, which seems to apply to maybe .01% of the populace.

  14. Mimai says:

    I am not at all questioning vaccine effectiveness nor the mandates. Rather, I’m trying to think on the margins of this and also about tradeoffs. And I’m also trying to get better at specifying the outcomes (eg, infection, symptomatic case, serious case, death, transmission [which is different and not much studied]) when I think about these issues.

    The latest best evidence is that Moderna provides the most protection against severe disease and death. The new CDC data shows that it’s better than Pfizer, both of which are better than natural immunity. They did not examine J&J (this is important to remember).

    These are some of the things I’ve been thinking about:
    1) What are the outcomes? In the CDC data, it was hospitalization with COVID symptoms. This is an important outcome. It is also different than other important outcomes. I’m trying to get better at looking for and specifying this when I think about mandates and the like.

    2) Natural immunity is not nothing. It confers protection, though less so than Pfizer and Moderna (note, the earlier Israeli study suggested natural immunity is better but that study has a lot of limitations, particularly the small sample).

    3) J&J is less effective (across outcomes) than Pfizer and Moderna. Quite a bit so. I have not seen good data comparing it to natural immunity.

    4) Across all of these (vaccines and natural immunity), protection wanes over time.

    5) The penalties for being unvaccinated are significant (e.g., occupational, social, etc). (note, I am not taking issue with such penalties, merely noting that they exist)

    Given all of this, if our goal is public health, we should prefer…
    …any vaccination or natural immunity over no vaccination and no natural immunity.
    …Moderna over Pfizer over J&J / natural immunity over no vaccination and no natural immunity.
    …(post 6 months) vaccinated + boosted over vaccinated but not boosted over no vaccinated and no natural immunity. (I haven’t seen enough data directly comparing the various combinations of vaccinated, natural immunity, and boosted, so I left that out)

    tldr, there is widespread acceptance that some vaccines are better than others, and that natural immunity provides some (though lesser) protection. And also that protection wanes over time.

    In regards to occupational mandates, why do we accept anything other than Moderna? It is the best, so anything less is an increased risk to the public. It’s a rhetorical (some might say silly) question, with easy answers. So we can dismiss it.

    Let’s add Pfizer. Why do we accept anything other than Moderna or Pfizer? They are clearly superior to other vaccines and also to natural immunity. Hence, eg, there is a not insignificant risk of allowing J&J to satisfy occupational mandates. So why do we allow it? This question is not as easily dismissed.

    If we accept J&J, why do we not also accept natural immunity? One might respond, because natural immunity isn’t as good as [insert vaccine]. But natural immunity isn’t nothing – it confers protection. Is there a specific protection threshold that we are using as our standard for allow / don’t allow? If so, what is it and for what outcome? I find these questions to be a lot more challenging to answer in an evidence-based and principled way.

    Now let’s add in time since vaccination / previous infection (natural immunity). Why do we allow vaccination >6 months ago but no booster and yet we do not allow previous infection (natural immunity) <6 months ago? Again, evidence-based and principled answers are tough for me to conjure.

    Again, I stress, I am not arguing against vaccines or against mandates. Rather, my comment is mostly about sharpening my thinking and protecting myself against my own biases and sloppiness.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Mimai: So far, the most conclusive research says that you are 2.4 times more likely to be reinfected if you are protected by a previous infection than if you were vaccinated.

    But, as the linked post states, there is still a lot to be learned about this. And beware of crap articles written by scientist-wannabes. In googling around I found one article in a Texas newspaper that was highlighting that in the local area previously infected people were less likely to die than vaccinated people if they got the disease. But reading the article it looks like they controlled for literally nothing else. The fact that older people are a) much more likely to be vaccinated and b) literally thousands of times more likely to die of COVID than a younger one were never even considered, rendering the article so much misleading junk. Yet the article remains online with no corrections or explanations.

  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Mimai: All your analysis makes sense for the Delta variant. J&J is very effective against the original variants. When the next variant takes over, who knows what will be most effective?

  17. JKB says:

    @James Joyner: because we’ve long understood that people don’t have a right to spread diseases to others.

    Except the COVID vaccines don’t stop the spread of the virus. They do seem effective in reducing the severity of COVID in those most vulnerable, the elderly, obese, etc. But they don’t stop the vaccinated from getting or from spreading the virus.

    Reality is hard to confront, but it’s still reality

    As someone else observed:

    We’ve gone from two weeks to flatten then curve to avoid the hospitals being overwhelmed to the hospitals at risk of being overwhelmed because they’ve fired staff over a mandate for a virus they fought without any protection and know well for a year.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    You are wrong on the facts.

    I know, why bother? Like facts matter to you. But there might be casual passers-by who don’t know that you’re a pathological liar.

  19. James Joyner says:

    @Mimai: my wife and I had Moderna and I’ll get my Moderna booster next month. Everyone else in the family got Pfizer because they were under 21 and that’s the only one approved for that cohort. Additionally, Pfizer is the only one ‘fully approved’ so that’s the default for the mandate.

    @JKB: The vaccines make it much less likely that you’ll catch the virus, so it absolutely makes it much likely that you’ll transmit it.

  20. Gustopher says:

    @JKB: vaccines reduce the likelihood of getting the virus, and the severity of the infection. So, fewer people, less infectious, for a shorter time.

    I know von Mises is old, but I think he was after the germ theory was confirmed.

    If one were to breed a centaur and a Minotaur, might one end up with offspring with just the human parts?
    -Moses, Ludwig con (1927). Liberalism

  21. Gustopher says:

    @Mimai: Honestly, we might be at a spot where we should be considering mandating a Moderna or Pfizer booster for J&J folks.

    The medical evidence is pretty conclusive that this is a much better combination than J&J alone, but there are a lot of other factors, domestic and global.

    We would be much better off than we are now if everyone in Africa got a J&J shot. If we stop accepting it locally, that makes it harder to push globally. And J&J has a lot of advantages in terms of the supply chain needed to distribute it, and it’s pretty ok in effectiveness.

    It would also make the domestic guidance a complete mushy mess.

  22. R. Dave says:

    @Mimai: Forgive me if this has been discussed ad nauseum around here, but I wonder what folks think about the natural immunity position. That is, if someone has a documented history of COVID infection, should they be required to get vaccinated? Boosted?

    I think the main reason prior infection isn’t a viable substitute for vaccination is that the level and duration of post-infection immunity appear to depend on the severity of the infection and the viral load that caused it. With vaccines, we have a controlled dosing schedule that produces predictable levels of protection; with post-infection immunity, we have no real idea how much protection a person is likely to have based solely on the fact they had a positive PCR test at some point. At least, that’s my layman’s understanding of the issue.

  23. wr says:

    @JKB: So you just stopped by because you hoped a couple more people might die if you spread these lies? What kind of disgusting excuse for a human being are you?

  24. dazedandconfused says:

    What’s really bad about is is firemen don’t spend much time fighting fires. Most of the calls are for rescues and emergency medicals, so they are in contact with the public, and predominantly with elderly. If they were pure smoke eaters I’d have a better opinion of them, not in contact with anyone but themselves.

    Fire em. As Clemenza put it: “These things have to happen every 10 years or so. Cleans out the bad blood.”

  25. @Mimai:

    please leave aside the political, cultural, etc baggage of this issue

    That would be great, but the fact of the matter is that it has become far more a political/cultural issue than a public health one.

  26. EddieInCA says:

    *Vaccine mandates are making teachers who don’t believe in science quit.
    Vaccine mandates are making nurses and doctors who don’t believe in medicine resign.
    Vaccine mandates are making police officers and Firefighters who don’t believe in public safety retire.

    I call that good.


    *credit to @meidastouch on twitter

  27. EddieInCA says:


    What kind of disgusting excuse for a human being are you?

    Rhetorical question, right?

  28. Barry says:

    @Mimai: “I am not at all questioning vaccine effectiveness nor the mandates. ”

    Yes, you just have been.

  29. Dude Kembro says:

    @Brother Bob: It’s still my body, my choice. My body, my choice not to allow you to infect me with a prevantable disease.

    You have a choice too: stay home or go work for employers whose insurance doesn’t mind unnecessarily high risk (good luck).

    Even a Supreme Court with a plurality of Trump appointments has rejected every vaccine challenge its heard. So Trump being wouldn’t save the radical extremist right’s Bring Back Whooping Cough caucus from its wrongness on this. Sorry boo.

  30. Mimai says:


    It would also make the domestic guidance a complete mushy mess.

    No doubt. My comments are a thought exercise/sharpener. None of this is to say that public health policy could (should) reflect such nuance.

    @R. Dave:
    I agree that there are a lot of unknowns about natural immunity. More unknowns than for vaccines (though we are still understanding them too). This may ultimately lead us to say that natural immunity doesn’t count wrt work authorizations.

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Can’t we just pretend this once? It’s Halloween.

    I can tell you sincerely that I don’t question vaccine effectiveness. But I accept that written words can be imprecise/unclear. Can you please show me (with examples please) where I’ve done such questioning, so that I can revise accordingly?

  31. DrDaveT says:

    @Brother Bob:

    I’m so old, I remember when The Radical Left used to have “My body, my choice” and “Keep your laws off of my body”

    I’m even older; I remember Mary Mallon. I’m expecting you and yours to erect a statue of that martyr for liberty any day now… in fact, I’m surprised it hasn’t already happened.

  32. BugManDan says:

    @Mimai: What happens in 12 months? Do you just force them out then? Sometimes you just have to rip of the bandaid and get it over with.