Report: fire department undergoing massive retirements since Sept.
NEW YORK (AP) - The fire department is losing both supervisors
and rank and file firefighters to retirement at least twice the
rate of a year ago, according to a published report.
Combined with losses suffered by the department on Sept. 11, the
city has lost many of its most experienced firefighters, even as an
independent consultant's study urged the department to greatly
improve its planning and training for major disasters - a
transformation best undertaken by seasoned personnel, according to
a report in Wednesday's New York Times.
Between the time of the World Trade Center attacks and July 19,
a total of 213 senior command members retired, a number 60 percent
greater than left the job during that period last year. Hundreds
more have notified the firefighters' union they plan to leave next
When combined with commanders killed on Sept. 11, the department
will soon have lost one quarter of its supervisory staff. A similar
exodus has been documented among rank and file firefighters.
Lately, about 40 firefighters retire every week. Previously, the
department might lose 500 a year.
A variety of factors, including emotional and physical
exhaustion, lots of overtime pay since the attacks and bolstered
pensions, are contributing to the exodus, fire officials say.
Like police, firefighters collect a pension after 20 years
that's equal to half of their salary their last year on the job.
The city and state are pushing various pieces of legislation to
give senior members of the department more of an incentive to stay.
On Monday, Fire Department Chief Daniel Nigro, who was sworn
into the position after his predecessor died in the World Trade
Center attacks, announced he was retiring in September.
Chief of Safety Albert Turi Jr. and Bureau of Fire Department
Chief Michael Butler are also retiring.
Fire officials say they've hired 1,200 new people and plan to
hire more, but expressed concerned about the drain of experienced
firefighters after Sept. 11.
"Normally, we say emotions should not drive retirement," Capt.
Peter L. Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers
Association, told the New York Times. "But because of the enormity
of this tragedy, most members brought this home to their family.
The pressure on them is greatly accelerated."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg scheduled a news conference for
Wednesday at noon to announce a firefighter initiative, according
to his press office.
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08-07-2002, 04:28 AM #1
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