Buffalo Firefighters Accused of Overtime Scam

Buffalo firefighters are in the news over an alleged overtime scam. Mayor Byron Brown claims the scam involves a longstanding practice of buying and selling overtime shifts, coupled with healthy firefighters calling in sick to create additional overtime openings.

The buying and selling aspect of the scam came to light when firefighters publically admitted the practice was occurring, apparently oblivious to the appearance, legalities and tax consequences of the practice. Firefighters deny the sick leave abuse aspect.

At the heart of the buying and selling practice appears to be the fact that overtime compensation is calculated into an employee’s pension. As a result, employees approaching retirement have an incentive to take as much overtime as possible to boost their pension.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • Jeremy

    this is happening in almost EVERY fire station in the country.”Fire Fighters” have been extorting money out of tax payers for YEARS, “pay us more or you will die in fires”.”Fire Fighters” could be made obsolete by smoke/fire detectors and sprinklers.

    • Jeremy

      Let’s just agree to disagree on that one. There are some abuses that have crept in to some departments, and those abuses have been rationalized by the firefighters primarily because elected and appointed officials have conducted themselves in unethical ways… so the firefighters reach the point where they say – fine, you want to screw with us, here’s the consequences.

      I am not justifying the abuses in Buffalo or anywhere else. I am just pointing out that if you perceive that someone is cheating you – you would be less inclined to contemplate – seriously contemplate – the rightness or wrongness of cheating them back.

      IMHO – that is what is driving alot of the scandals we are seeing. Search on here for my thoughts on the Robin Hood Syndrome.

      As for extortion… I think you are off base.

      Firefighters being made obsolete??? I hope I live to see that day – most firefighters do as well – but it will not be because of smoke detectors or sprinklers.

  • MIke980

    Those sprinklers and smoke detectors wouldn’t have done the family of 4 we had to cut out of car this morning a whole lot of good. Ask the residents of the Bear,Delaware Apartment complex who have no where to live how well their sprinkler system worked. New construction in places require sprinklers but existing doesn’t. So unless you’re intending on demolishing every building before sprinklers requirements you’re just blowing crap out of your mouth. So until then you’ll always need me. BTW I’m a volunteer in Berks County Pa.


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