More than three-quarters of last year’s retirees from the City of New York’s Fire Department (FDNY) were eligible for six-figure pensions, with 40 of them eligible for pensions over $200,000 according to data posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website.
A total of 491 people retired from FDNY during 2019. Among the 381 new retirees with at least 20 years of service, pensions averaged $139,785 and 326 (86 percent) were eligible for pensions over $100,000.
The largest new pension went to retired Assistant Chief James C. Hodgens, who was eligible to collect at an annual rate of $282,476 per year. The FDNY’s largest pension went to 2013 retiree Michael A. Vecchi, who was eligible for $316,649.
The 40 new pensions valued over $200,000 bring the total number of FDNY retirees eligible for such amounts to 257. Including 2019 retirees, 4,372 (28 percent) of FDNY retirees were eligible for pensions over $100,000 last year.
In the past, the high average level of FDNY pensions has in part reflected the number of firefighters receiving line-of-duty disability pensions, which are 75 percent of salary as opposed to the 50 percent available under normal service retirements. The data do not differentiate between disability and service pensions.
Higher benefits also include payments from an optional, guaranteed-return supplemental account supported by additional savings contributions by firefighters and fire officers who choose to participate in that plan.
The data are only available thanks to the Empire Center’s continued litigation efforts, which led to a 2015 court decision affirming the public’s right to view recipient names and amounts of FDNY pensions. A similar case seeking New York City police pension data is ongoing in state court.
The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.