The Fire Lines - December 2014
When the FDNY once again began recruiting new-hire candidates for its most recent probationary firefighter classes, it sold many on the great benefits of the job. “The best job in the world has the best benefits in the world,” read a July 2011 recruitment posters.
If that was not enough, they went further, “competitive salary, up to four weeks’ vacation, career growth opportunities, life-long medical coverage, and generous pension benefits.” Sounds great, right?
What the City forgot to inform roughly 1,150 new FDNY firefighters hired since January 2013 is: don’t get hurt in the line of duty. If any of these probationary firefighters are seriously injured on the job, the approximate value of their disability protection amounts to only about $27/day. This all came about when Governor David Paterson vetoed The New York City firefighter and police Tier II extender bill in June 2009, forcing all FDNY and NYPD into Tier III which has no real disability benefits. Virtually every firefighter and police officer in New York State has real disability benefits except FDNY and NYPD.
It is wholly unacceptable for newly hired New York Firefighters to face the same dangers as fellow firefighters but only be compensated at the rate of $27 if they’re seriously injured risking their lives for the citizens of New York City. I fundamentally believe that the public will be best served when every firefighter knows that he or she will be provided for if they are seriously injured in the line of duty, while risking their life for New Yorkers.
It’s already a dangerous job and firefighters should be focused on their responsibilities in a fire/emergency situation, not concerned or preoccupied with ”what if” questions about who is going to take care of their family if they’re injured. This has never happened in the history of the Department and it jeopardizes firefighters’ and public safety, and doesn’t serve taxpayers. It would seem that with all the Department’s recruiting efforts, it is grossly unfair that new hires taking the same risks are not afforded the same disability benefits.
On November 19th, the Executive Board and I were joined by over 300 UFA members at City Hall to raise our concerns on behalf of members hired within the last two years. I am grateful for the many delegates and senior firefighters who turned out to provide their support and additionally to the large number of newly hired firefighters that that gave their time in support of this agenda.
Taking out a full page ad in both the New York Post and New York Daily News the morning of our press conference, the UFA demanded the City Council take immediate action to pass a home rule message to fix this crisis for firefighters. We are going to continue this fight from City Hall to Albany. It is what we must do to protect the newest members of the FDNY and UFA family.
I wish each member and their family a happy and healthy holiday and a prosperous New Year. Keep our fallen members and their families in our prayers.
As always, stay safe!
Stephen J. Cassidy,