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N.Y. volunteer firefighters OK’d for higher pensions, further service

By Pam Kowalik
Buffalo News (New York)
Copyright 2007 The Buffalo News
All Rights Reserved

PENDLETON, N.Y. — Wendelville Fire Company volunteers older than 65 could receive as much as $400 per month in pension payments if they keep going out on fire calls and performing other duties.

The Town Board voted, 4-0, on Tuesday to let 16 such volunteers increase their pensions for up to three years. The vote also would allow future volunteers in that age bracket to add $10 per month to their pensions for each extra year of service.

Firefighters who accumulate enough time to earn a retirement payment of $300 a month and are still active past their 65th birthday could grow their monthly checks by $20 per year of service. The maximum monthly payout for a retired firefighter is $400 a month, Supervisor James A. Riester said.

Riester, still active with the company, said the issue will be turned over to the fire company for a vote.

The Town Board in 1994 enacted a retirement plan for volunteer firefighters as an incentive.

After the meeting, Riester said that although he does not have exact cost, it could be about $20,000 more per year.

Mark Walter, president of the fire company, spoke in favor of the plan during a hearing.

Riester said that it is important to retain all firefighters, especially those who can help out during the day when many volunteers have job commitments.

Older volunteers still have have to meet requirements, including making 10 percent of the calls, participating in 12 drills, earning 15 “social points” and making six meetings. Social points can be earned by showing up to work at activities such as bingo and dinners, Riester said.