Mayor Cuts Funding For Local Volunteer’s Insurance
When City Councilman Joseph Addabbo was first elected to the council three years ago, one of the first steps he took was to ensure that money was allocated in the city budget for compensation insurance for volunteer firefighters injured serving their communities.
Addabbo was happy when he was assured that the allocation was “baseline” money, meaning it would be in the budget each year, no matter what the fiscal condition of the city. Now, however, the money is gone and Addabbo is perplexed about the situation.
“I really didn’t worry about the money this year, because it has been base line money,” Addabbo said. “That is, I didn’t worry until it disappeared, pulled from the budget by somebody in the Mayor’s Office.”
Addabbo said that he confirmed that the missing allocation was not an oversight by calling the mayor’s office.
“I found out that Peter Gorman, the president of the Uniformed Fire Officer’s Association, personally requested that the money be taken out of the budget,” Addabbo said.
Gorman had previously stated his opposition to New York City firefighters or fire officers serving as volunteers in their home communities, particularly those in Nassau County.
“Gorman found out that one fire officer who was hurt in fighting a fire in his community was ‘double-dipping,’ taking compensation in both that community and from the New York City Fire Department,” Addabbo said by way of explanation. “Not many members of the local volunteer units are city firefighters. You shouldn’t punish the mass of volunteers for the action of one individual.” Addabbo says that he contacted the Mayor’s Office and pointed out that this issue is a “lose-lose” issue for the mayor’s reelection bid.
Ed O’Hare, the local Republican Leader and president of the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department, agrees with Addabbo that the mayor should restore the money.
“It’s really ludicrous that money to protect men and women who are protecting their community should be cut for any reason,” O’Hare told The Wave. “That small amount of money, only $125,000 in a budget of millions, is insignificant to the city but vitally important to the volunteers who help the city department each day.”
O’Hare has mounted a campaign to get the insurance money restored.
Meanwhile, the policy period ended September 1 and local volunteers are no longer protected should they get hurt fighting a fire or while on an ambulance run. There are 10 volunteer fire departments in the city. Four of them – Breezy Point, Rockaway Point, Broad Channel and Roxbury – are in Rockaway.
Calls to Peter Gorman were rerouted to several extensions before The Wave was told that he was not available for comment on this issue.