I have been reading these articles regarding our fire department and I must say that I am ashamed and saddened with what I am reading. I am the wife of 20 years of one of these local firefighters with this so-called “lavish retirement” as some have claimed.
My husband is 48 years old and in two years, when he turns 50, he cannot retire. Just last week we received his yearly retirement statement and trust me, it is not pretty. The figure that was shown “if” he were to retire could not come close to covering our bills. I am talking just the basics, and by the way, this tax (Measure S) we would be paying as well.
It was mentioned that many of these firefighters would collect their retirement while getting other jobs. As for my husband, yes, you are correct. He will have to work again not because he wants to but because he has to. After all, he just wants to provide for his family and be able to watch his grandkids grow up.
OK, now for facts: These firefighters for the past four years have voted to not take a raise or anything else. This was to hopefully keep what little they do get and not see any of their brothers hitting the unemployment lines down the road. Fact: some years ago these same firefighters with this so-called lavish retirement voted 100 percent to pass on a raise to enable the department to staff the Discovery Bay station 24/7 like all the other stations. You should have seen their paychecks then.
Reality: Several of these firefighters are out right now on serious injuries, which all occurred while on the job, and many of these injuries just happened to be while these brave men were on a two-person engine. My husband has dealt with two knee injuries and two back injuries and missed many days off work healing and lying in bed while dealing with the depression of hearing the siren, knowing he couldn’t be there with his brothers doing what he loves, all the while hoping to make it back.
He could have taken a 50-percent pay tax free for life but would not even think of it. He still gets up, never complains about his pains. The pain I speak of is twofold: the physical pain as well as the emotional pain of knowing that some feel he and his brothers are milking the system, wanting a free ride.
This tax is not about their pensions, and it is not about making their paychecks fat. It’s about these brave men having the tools and brothers they need to do their jobs.
I agree that in this day and age people are being taxed to death. However, this service that they provide cannot be lost. I have family here, like we all do, and I do not want any of them waiting 10 to 15 minutes for an engine.
If Measure S does fail, then yes: the people have spoken. I urge people to please really look into this and really think about it and find out the facts before you go and vote. Please give our firefighters – the ones that have our backs – that much.