New York Daily News

Monday, March 16, 2015, 10:23 PM

  

 

FDNY union pushes state lawmakers to fix disability benefits for firefighters

BY GINGER ADAMS OTIS

PEARL GABEL/PEARL GABEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

FDNY union boss Steve Cassidy said firefighters are being treated like "fifth-class citizens" by giving them disability benefits that are based on a rookie's starting pay, which is equal to about $10,000 a year for life.

Over 100 city firefighters who claim they’re getting burned on disability benefits rallied Monday at City Hall, demanding a legislative fix.

Thanks to a 2009 decision by then-Gov. David Paterson, disability pay for FDNY and NYPD hires works out to be $27 a day.

“I am new to this job and I love it, and I love my city,” said Giselle King, a firefighter at Engine 15 on the Lower East Side.

“I just want to be able to take care of my family if, God forbid, something happens to me,” the young smoke-eater added.

It’s an unconscionable amount to award a cop or firefighter injured on the job who can’t work, said union head Steve Cassidy.

“These firefighters aren’t being treated like second-class citizens — they’re being treated like fifth-class citizens,” fumed the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

Cops and firefighters who got on the payroll before 2009 have far more financial security. In the event of a career-ending injury, they get three-quarters of their final year’s pay, tax-free, for life.

When Paterson failed to sign an extender bill rolling over uniformed benefits in 2009, future hires got thrown into a different disability classification.

PEARL GABEL/PEARL GABEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

In 2009, then-Gov. David Paterson (R) failed to sign a bill that meant firefighters hired in the future were moved into a different disability classification. It resulted in lower disability pay. Now the FDNY wants Albany to address the issue.

Their benefits, based on a rookie’s starting pay, equal about $10,000 a year, for life.

Cassidy and Patrick Lynch, head of the police officers union, want the City Council to approve a home-rule message telling Albany lawmakers to pass a bill fixing the issue.

But Mayor de Blasio, citing costs, has resisted.

“There’s a valid concern that we want to find a way to address. I don’t think going back to the old approach (is right). I think there are other ways to address it,” de Blasio told reporters.

Some 8,000 cops and 1,400 firefighters are working under the lesser benefits.

Lynch has said the city has a “moral obligation” to equalize the benefits.

With Jennifer Fermino