[Editor's Note: The following is a letter recently written by Matthew Maounis, Stamford resident and volunteer assistant fire chief of the , and sent to the and the Board of Finance.]
Members of the Board:
Below are some facts about Stamford’s paid firefighters that you may be surprised to hear.
Stamford Fire Rescue work schedule: With the exception of the Chief and two Assistant Chiefs, all other officers and Firefighters work a 24 hour day, then have three days off then work another 24 hour shift. What does this really mean? SFR Firefighters work on average seven days per month, yes seven! That’s only 84 days per year. There is 104 weekend days in the year. So they are work fewer days than the average person has off from work on weekends. This is before any vacation days or sick days are used.
Over the course of that 24 hour shift, they are allowed to sleep. So theoretically they can sleep for 1/3 of their shift and maybe even more while getting paid to do so. There another perk they get paid extra money to work at night. This is called a night differential. This dates back to their old schedule when they worked three days on, three off, three nights on. Then it was deemed a “hardship” to work nights. But now working nights is anything but that.
Unlimited sick time with pay, yes, I said unlimited, even if it’s not job related. For example, a firefighter tears their ACL while skiing on their paid vacation and needs to have surgery and rehab and end up being out of work for 1 year; they get paid their salary for that whole year.
The contributions they make toward their medical benefits are lower than the national average for unionized workers and the average union workers contributes less than the average private sector worker.
Let’s talk about pensions now. A firefighter who has at least 15 years of service is entitled to receive a pension. Let look further into this. A firefighter who came on the job in 1999 would make contributions to the pension fund. By the year 2014, their 15th year, they would have paid in approximately $55,000. For that $55,000 payment they could start to receive their pension as early of an age of 48. The amount they would receive is approximately $27,000 per year for the rest of their natural life and if their spouse outlives the firefighter they collect it until their death. Hypothetically, if a firefighter and/or their spouse can collect for 30 years; that’s $810,000, at 40 years or age of 88, that’s $1,080,000. So I ask you what is that benefit really worth? One thing I can tell you it worth a lot more the $55,000.
These are just some of the perks SFR firefighter’s have. Their work schedule gives them the flexibility to work more than one job. Other things like getting time and a half for overtime, four hours minimum pay overtime even if they only work for one hour, and paid vacations and holidays make this job very lucrative for them.
Remember, we are all taxpayers in this town and we pay for these benefits. Most of the members of Local 786 are not residents of this town and their only motivation, though under the guise of public safety, is to protect the finical fiefdom they have created over the years.
These are just some of the reasons Mayor Pavia’s plan should be implemented. The taxpayers deserve a more fiscally responsible and efficient system.
Resident & Tax Payer