Press Releases

For Release March 31, 2015

ALL FIVE – N.Y. City Borough Presidents Agree: NY City Firefighters Should NOT Be Forced To Risk Their Lives & Health for Only $10,000/Year Disability Protection - - - - - Would You Risk Your Life For $27/Day?

The five borough presidents of the City of New York have come out united in their agreement that New York City Firefighters should not be forced to risk their lives and health for only a $10,000 per year disability pension if permanently disabled in the line of duty. They say legislation is urgently needed to address this crisis stemming from a June 2009 veto of New York City Firefighter and Police Tier II disability protections. There are now over 1,400 newly hired FDNY firefighters who lack any real disability protections. Should they be burned, seriously injured or paralyzed on the job, the disability protection for a Probationary (Rookie) Firefighter equals only about $10,000 per year or $27 per day.

Steve Cassidy, president of the UFA said, “When massive fires, building collapses or explosions happen, it is New York City Firefighters on the front lines protecting the lives of the 15 million people who live, work or visit New York City every single day. For City Hall to call these firefighters’ actions dangerous or heroic, but still refuse to give them and their families a real safety net, is irresponsible leadership.”

More than 250 firefighters responded to the massive gas explosion and 7-alarm fire in the East Village and conducted building searches before and after the structures collapsed, providing a vivid illustration of what is expected of firefighters at emergency scenes. Staten Island Borough President James Oddo said, "When the proverbial stuff hits the fan and we are all escaping or avoiding a fire, our firefighters defy every instinct that says 'run away,' and they sprint towards that fire to save lives. Part of the social contract we have with our FDNY and NYPD personnel is that if they are injured in the line of duty that we will help take care of them and their families. In 2009, that social contract was torn apart. It is not right to those who have joined the force since 2009 and put their lives on the line every day, and it must be corrected. These last few weeks have been really busy for our firefighters both on Staten Island and citywide. As they run into harm's way, they must be assured that we have their backs when they need it most, just like they have ours in our most desperate times."

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said, "The difference in the decreased disability coverage for these newly hired young firefighters and police officers is too stark, unfair and onerous so as to make the status quo untenable. I call on the Mayor, the City Council and State Legislature to take steps toward closing this disparity and inequity in disability coverage for post-2009 hires. I am confident that a renewed look into the assumptions and calculations behind this drastic reduction, along with consideration of its harmful implications to the profession and public safety, will lead to the increase in disability coverage being sought. It's time to send a consistent and clear message that we equally value the service, sacrifice and families of our recently hired bravest and finest public servants."

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said, "Every day they report for work, all of our City's firefighters and police officers put their lives on the line to protect us from harm. That includes those firefighters and police officers who were hired after July 1, 2009 and who would get as little as $27 a day in disability benefits if they were to be seriously injured on the job. It is therefore time to restore fundamental fairness and dignity to our disability benefits system by guaranteeing that first responders hired after July 1, 2009 can get the same disability benefits available to those who were hired before that date. It's the least we can do for the members of the uniformed services who run in to harm’s way while others run out."

At the firefighters’ recent City Hall rally, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was the first to state his concerns, saying, “To pay someone $27 a day that runs into burning buildings to save lives every day is an insult. When you run into a burning building, when you go to save a life, the last thing you need to think about is being covered and if you family are going to be protected. You cannot put profit over public safety. This needs to rapidly be resolved. No one should have to spend their life, risking it for $27 a Day. We don’t want firefighters protecting the people of this city to have to stand on a street corner with a squeegee in their hand trying to wash a window to pay their mortgage. They should be protected as they did the job and protected the people of this city.” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also added his voice in support of New York’s Bravest, saying, “Our firefighters put their lives on the line for the people of this city every single day. Their disability benefits should reflect that commitment and sacrifice, regardless of their time on the job.”

The Uniformed Firefighters Association in conjunction with the FDNY fraternal societies: the Vulcan Society, Hispanic Firefighters Society, Phoenix Society and the United Women Firefighters Association are united in fighting against the employment double standard being imposed by the City of New York on more than 1,400 new FDNY Firefighters, many from the most ethnically diverse recruiting classes in the Department’s history.

The UFA also introduced several videos which chronicle the serious and significant concerns: “$27/Day” and “Recruiting Lies” (http://ufanyc.org/) containing interviews with impacted firefighters speaking of their concern of lacking real disability protections. New York’s Bravest are asking New Yorkers to sign an online petition asking for the restoration of real disability protections for the city’s newest firefighters

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