NYC 9/11 firefighter forced to retire because of COVID vax mandate

NYC 9/11 firefighter forced to retire because of COVID vax mandate

A NYC firefighter who worked at Ground Zero on 9/11 is now putting in for retirement because he doesn't want a COVID vaccine, having already recovered from the virus. 

Gary Debiase, 55, who served with Ladder 109 in Staten Island for 23-and-a-half years, said that he still loves his job. But he added that outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio's edict forcing all municipal city workers to have the shot by November 1 forced him out.

Debiase said: 'They told us the air was clean at ground zero - I'm never trusting what the government tells me is safe for my health again... 

'I wanna go back but I don’t want a shot. We’re in a position where we can go without for a few more weeks. Forcing someone to take a vaccine is coercion. 

'I’ll absolutely go back to work if they let me... Everybody is ready to work. Nobody wants to go home.'

'My wife and I are in a position where we could hold out a few weeks but after that I'm going to put in for my retirement and that's it. 

'I don't want to retire. But they won't let me work. They're saying "you can't go to a school", "you can't go to a hospital", "you can't do this, you can't do that."' 

Both he and his wife, Anna Rose Carpiento, a sonographer at public Bellevue Hospital, lost their city jobs after refusing the jab, and say they feel like they are being treated as 'second class citizens' because they're unvaccinated. 

Speaking at an anti-vaccine mandate in Manhattan on Wednesday, Debiase told of stepping over dead bodies on the day of the 9/11 attacks: 'I was knee deep in ash, and the chief said ‘if you step over anyone, see if they’re alive. If they’re not, leave them.’

On September 12, 2001, he went straight back to work despite the apocalyptical scene he described.

But on Monday last week, he was sent home from his Staten Island firehouse when he didn't show up with a vaccine card in-hand.  

Firefighters have said that at least 150 other retirement-age firefighters were spurred to hang up their gear for good.

As of today, 21 percent of New York's 11,000-strong fire department - approximately 2,310 people - are unvaccinated, and have been sent home.