New York City Fire Department (FDNY) pensions have averaged more than $100,000 for new retirees for the past seven years, according to data previously withheld by the pension fund and obtained by the Empire Center after a lengthy court battle.

The data, detailing pensions of 15,911 FDNY retirees, were posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website.

The average pension for the 360 firefighters retiring in fiscal year 2014 was $103,886. The fund’s largest pension—$284,624—was that of Michael A. Vecchi, who retired in 2013 as an associate commissioner. An additional seven pensions topped $200,000 in 2014 alone.

Firefighters pensions exceed six figures in part because the majority of New York City firefighters have been retiring on disability pensions since 2001, according to other pension system data. Disability pensions amount to 75 percent of final average salaries, while normal “service retirement” pensions are 50 percent of final average salaries.

The data posted at SeeThroughNY do not indicate whether pensions are for disabilities or service retirements. The data posted at SeeThroughNY also do not include a separate $12,000 annual “variable supplement” paid to all service retirees from the New York City Fire Department and Police Department, but not to those receiving disability pensions.

After a four-year court fight with state and city pension systems that ended with the Court of Appeals siding with the Empire Center in 2014, two FDNY unions sued to prevent the Fire Department Pension Fund from complying with the ruling. In April, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge ordered the fund to release the data to the Empire Center, affirming the public’s right to know both pension amounts and the names of retirees receiving pensions.

“When pensions need to be funded, it is taxpayers who have to answer the call,” said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center. “It is unfortunate that the unions and pension funds were so determined to prevent the public from seeing just what the taxpayers are on the hook for.”

The Empire Center is a non-partisan, non-profit independent think tank based in Albany. In addition to maximum pension allowances for public-sector retirees, SeeThroughNY includes salaries for all state and local government employees, including those working in public authorities; detailed expenditure data for the state Legislature; comparative statistics on local government spending; a searchable database of state revenue and expenditures; and copies of all teacher union contracts and superintendent of schools contracts.

You may also like

Most Long Island Educators Paid at Least $100,000 Last Year

18% of all public-school teachers and administrators employed by school districts outside New York City were paid over $100,000 last year Read More

New Public Authority Payroll Data Now Posted at SeeThroughNY 

ALBANY, NY — 2020 for a total of 79,146 employees at 331 different New York State public authorities is now posted at , the Empire Center’s transparency website. 2021 is also posted for a total of 11,073 employees at 23 public aut Read More

$139K Average Pension for New Full-Career FDNY Retirees

Nearly three-quarters of those retiring last year from the City of New York’s Fire Department (FDNY) were eligible for six-figure pensions Read More

Three of 62 Requested COVID Data Sets Made Available through FOIL

Just three COVID data sets have been made fully available in the month since the Empire Center officially submitted 62 FOIL requests Read More

Rec and Restroom Facility Projects Among Fresh DASNY Pork

A total of $87 million in new grants were steered to 174 local projects over the past ten months by Governor Cuomo’s State Dormitory Authority (DASNY) Read More

Legislative Spending in Campaign Year Includes $7 Million in Postage

State lawmakers spent $7.3 million on postage for campaign-style mailings to constituents in the six-month run-up to last year’s elections Read More

Cuomo Administration Approves Additional $45 Million in Pork Spending in 2020, Analysis Finds

The Cuomo administration approved more than $45 million in new pork-barrel capital grants last year.  Read More

NYC Public Educator Pensions Rise Again

Average pension benefits paid to newly retired public educators in New York City rose again in 2020, according to data posted today at for New York City Teachers’ Retirement System (NYCTRS).  Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries:

Press Inquiries:


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!