Firefighters are revered as heroes for their willingness to run into flaming buildings to save people, but just what qualifies New York City's firemen for generous lifetime disability pensions?
That's the question some are asking after a Fire Department of New York (FDNY) retiree who receives extra pay for his disability has turned up battling flames at a NASCAR speedway.
The New York Post has more:
"Cliff Stabner, a 55-year-old city firefighter who retired in 2003 with a three-quarter disability pension of $95,000 annually, has surfaced as a member of the fire rescue team responding to crashes at Dover International Speedway in Delaware. The Post has obtained photos of Stabner wearing an orange jumpsuit and a helmet and standing next to a rescue vehicle at Dover’s “Monster Mile’’ track. Stabner also is a fire captain in his quaint new hometown of Lewes, Del."
At least one person-- the whistleblower who brought Stabner's case to the Post's attention-- thinks there is something rotten going on.
“If you have a disability pension, why are you fighting fires and doing NASCAR?” said the whistleblower, who requested anonymity from the NY Post.
“We as citizens are paying for the higher disability pensions. It drives me crazy. How is it OK? It doesn’t make any sense,” the whistleblower added.
Apparently, this situation of "disabled" firefighters going on to very active lives in retirement is nothing new. In fact, as the Post point out:
"About three-quarters of FDNY firefighters retired with disability pensions in recent years, up from 50 percent before 9/11. The FDNY pension fund paid out $588 million for disability pensions last year, more than double the figure from a decade ago."
When confronted by reporters, Stabner defended his position as a matter of law to the Post.
“Is that illegal? There are laws? Is that against the pension system? Is it against the law?”
Stabner was a member of FDNY Fire Rescue 3 in the Bronx, which lost seven members on 9/11.
“It’s 10 years later. I’m banged up from my life physically and psychologically,’’ he said. “I have serious medical issues.”
Stabner did not offer any specifics about his medical condition to reporters.