Boston Fire Department Probed for Alleged Disability Abuse

BOSTON --

The Boston Fire Department is under a federal investigation into whether firefighters cheated the city's disability system.

NewsCenter 5's Steve Lacy reported Thursday that dozens of Boston firefighters were accused of improperly padding their pensions by faking injuries while filling in for higher paid superior officers.

Mayor Tom Menino said that he is upset by the allegations, but not surprised.

"Our guys do a great job every day. They go and answer the call. When that bell rings, they are answering. They are there," Menino said.

Menino voiced his support for the firefighters, one day after the FBI formally launched an investigation into alleged disability fraud within the Boston Fire Department.

"My administration will cooperate with the authorities," Menino said.

More than 12 current and former firefighters have been subpoenaed as part of the investigation. The FBI has also reportedly sought thousands of pages of disability records dating back to 2000.

The investigation could result in fraud and conspiracy charges against the firefighters in question. There has been no comment from union officials.

While the allegations have yet to lead to any arrests, the incident is the latest in long string of bad news for the fire department.

Contract talks with the city remain stalled over, among other things, the plan to randomly test firefighters for drugs and alcohol.

The call for testing gained momentum after toxicology reports revealed two firefighters killed last summer in West Roxbury may have been impaired at the time.

In Boston, some were quick to voice their support for firefighters.

"They are firemen. They are heroes," one man said.

Others said that if the allegations are true, wrongdoers should be punished.

"It's fraud. I go to work everyday. I get up. I go to a job," one woman said.

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