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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 11, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Firefighter pension, benefits

State needs to revisit pension plan

I worked for 23 years as an administrative assistant in the fire service, so I know about the greed [“State feels the bite of employee ‘pension spiking,’ ” front page, April 7]. The firefighters that I worked with all felt so entitled and at every union-contract-negotiation period asked for more and more, never satisfied and always demanding more.

In my 23 years, I never saw anyone put their life on the line, never saw one person injured, let alone a loss of life. Not that I wanted to see anyone injured or killed; I’m merely making a point.

So, what makes these people feel so entitled? The retirements of these two men, firefighter Greg Hull and Walla Walla Police Chief Chuck Fulton, are a disgrace and can only be deemed as legal fraud because they are being allowed to receive a pension while working at another job.

Double-dipping should not be allowed. Hull’s pension combined with the new job for an annual income of $300,000 is downright greed.

The state needs to take a second and third look at this gross mispending. It isn’t fair to the rest of Washington’s residents. There’s not enough money for Medicare, for roads or anything else important, but some retired firefighter can leach $300,000 a year from the state. That’s only one person; how many more like him are out there?

Jeanne Herold, Auburn

Firefighters deserve the pensions

My husband, a retired Seattle firefighter, is one of the 3,000 members of the old pension system [“Seattle fire retirees can thrive on state disability benefits,” NWTuesday, April 9]. After 28 years with the department, Ron was injured while fighting a fire in the hole of a ship in Puget Sound.

His doctor, a Polyclinic fire-department doctor, advised him to retire before he became completely disabled from the neck injury. This advice was directed to the pension board.

Ron, who wanted to remain a firefighter and reach his 30-year anniversary before retiring, was told he would be retiring right then. He collected about $36,000 per year at the time from this pension, but this was not enough for us to make ends meet.

I went to work full-time in order to keep our house and help put food on the table. After deductions at the end of the year, there would never have been IRS taxes due.

The pension-board members manage the money in this pension account very well and the fund needs “no taxpayer bailout” as many others do. The state and the federal government are always looking for ways to get that money for their own uses.

These firefighters have given their all to serve their communities and deserve the pensions they receive.

Ginny Fairbairn, Renton

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