Oct. 26, 2005 – Claiming that a 2003 pension board decision changing the rules for firefighters seeking 9/11-related disability payments may be "political," a group of 30 current and retired New York City firefighters is preparing a class-action lawsuit against the city fire department to force officials to either return workers to full status or allow them to retire with the original pension.
- Ground Zero: The Most Dangerous Workplace (Jan 24, 2005)
The lawsuit, to be filed on behalf of Uniformed Firefighters Association Local 94 members, is aimed at pulling those suffering from lung problems due to recovery and rescue work conducted after the September 11 terror attacks out of "career limbo," UFA Vice President James Slevin told the New York Daily News.
"They have been found to be disabled by fire department doctors and would like to go on with their lives if they cannot go back to firefighting duty," Slevin told the paper.
Since 2002, at least 378 New York firefighters have retired due to respiratory problems, nearly a third of the overall number of FDNY workers who reported that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were directly related to their decision to leave the job.
While most of those cases did not result in permanent disability, a large number of FDNY workers were placed on light duty after failing a breathing test. In 2003, the pension fundâ€™s medical board changed the rules to force a pulmonary test on firefighters seeking disability pensions. The union said the new exam fails to check for the most common ailment its members suffer from.
The cityâ€™s law department stands by the medical boardâ€™s decision, the paper reported.