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FDNY unions respond to potential layoffs

The presidents of the Uniformed Firefighters Association and Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors strongly criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s comments


The presidents of the FDNY’s firefighter and EMS unions have spoken out to criticize Mayor Bill de Blasio’s comments suggesting first responder furloughs and layoffs may be necessary due to the city’s $7.4 billion in revenue losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AP Photo/John Minchillo

By Laura French

NEW YORK — The heads of the FDNY’s firefighter and EMS unions have spoken out following New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s comments suggesting first responder furloughs and layoffs may be possible due to pandemic-related revenue losses, both strongly criticizing proposed cuts to public safety.

De Blasio said during a news briefing Wednesday that without federal aid to make up for the city’s $7.4 billion in lost revenue, “every option will be on the table,” including furloughs and layoffs of first responders, healthcare workers and teachers.

The mayor also spoke of potential furloughs and layoffs of “heroes in this crisis” on CNN, blasting President Donald Trump for “turning his back because of partisan affiliation.”

Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) President Gerard Fitzgerald said during a news conference Wednesday that he was “furious” about de Blasio’s comments and said that “to threaten our jobs is just unacceptable,” according to CNN.

While Fitzgerald said he agreed that the city needed federal relief to handle the impacts of the crisis, he strongly opposed the mayor “put[ting] it on our backs, to threaten us to go to Washington to try and get more money,” CNN reported.

Fitzgerald also told Fox News that it was “deplorable” for de Blasio to use the livelihoods of FDNY members as a “political pawn to get back at McConnell or Trump.”

Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay also criticized the mayor’s statements in an interview with the New York Daily News.

“If laying off the people who saved New York City residents during this pandemic is his solution, then we’re all doomed,” Barzilay told the Daily News. “Not only is this the wrong time to lay people off, this is the time where this city needs every hand on deck.”

Barzilay also blasted the mayor in an interview with the New York Post for offering first responders a parade rather than better pay during the crisis.

Early last month, de Blasio said on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC that the pandemic was “not the time” to consider increasing pay for FDNY EMS providers.

According to Fitzgerald, about 24% of FDNY members are believed to have contracted COVID-19. A total of 11 department members have died from the virus, including three fire inspectors, four EMTs, two mechanics, the director of the cashier’s unit and another member whose family has requested anonymity.

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