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Fulfill The Promise To Firefighters

Captain Pesula served the Hooksett community for eighteen and a half years as a faithful employee of Hooksett Fire Rescue. He never smoked, he didn’t drink, and was arguably the healthiest, most-fit member on our department. He took care of himself and his crew through exercise and cancer-prevention measures well-known around the country, including cleansing of his Personal Protective Equipment and immediate showers upon return from a fire call. However, these measures of a careful, model lifestyle were not enough to protect him from what led to his death in June of 2016.

In December of 2014, Captain Pesula suddenly began having unresolved kidney stones and infections. As these medical issues continued, he had imaging done and the results were devastating. The cancer, which originated in his colon, was Stage 4 and had spread to his liver, lungs and bladder. Due to this diagnosis, Captain Pesula was not cleared to return to work. He fought hard, doing everything he could in the hope that he could return someday to the job he loved so much. He was on short-term disability, which led to long-term disability. Faced with the inevitable, Captain Pesula was eventually forced to make the difficult decision to retire from the department. Unsure if he would be able to keep his insurance, Captain Pesula now had fears of whether or not he would be able to continue his cancer care and treatment.

As a result of his retirement, Captain Pesula went ten months on a reduced income and no medical subsidy to cover the astronomical treatment expenses. He did not at any point prior to this, wish to become a charity case, but knew when to swallow his pride and ask his coworkers for help. We – his coworkers, family, and friends – led fundraising efforts throughout the community during this trying time, including selling t-shirts, wristbands and holding special fundraising events. Much of these funds were used to cover his medical expenses to continue the care he was receiving in Boston.

All this time, firefighters and friends from around the community rallied together to help Captain Pesula and his family around the house in Penacook, doing yard work, shoveling his driveway, putting up Christmas lights and other tasks. We did whatever we could to help a man who spent his life and career helping others.

I promised Dan that if anything bad were to happen to him, I and the rest of Fire Department would watch over his wife and children, always be there for them and never let them forget about their father. Captain Pesula passed in June of 2016. To this day, our department remains close with the Pesula family.  We continue to help his family at their home and always make a point to attend his children’s sporting events.

Senate Bill 541 by Senator Innis fulfills a promise made to firefighters by the legislature in 1987, recognizing firefighters are at a higher risk of cancer diagnosis and death as a result of their job. This is not just a theory; this is a known fact, backed by years of study and research. New Hampshire was one of the first states to institute this presumption law, and since then over thirty other states have followed suit. Unfortunately this was an unfunded mandate. By passing this bill, families like the Pesula’s would be given the financial assistance they deserve for a work-related disease. In memory of our late Captain Dan Pesula of Hooksett Fire Rescue Department and countless other firefighters across New Hampshire who have been taken by cancer, I implore the New Hampshire Senate, House and Governor Chris Sununu to honor this promise made to those on the front lines.

 

Captain Joseph P Stalker

Hooksett, NH Fire Rescue Department

Get On Your Bikes And Ride With The Professional Firefighters Of NH For Neuromuscular Diseases

Professional Fire Fighters of NH calls for
bike riders to support biking for a cure

“We are putting out the call for bike riders to join us, as we bike for a cure and travel the beautiful state of New Hampshire.  For the last sixty years fire fighters have responded to the call for help to find a cure for neuromuscular diseases and now we are asking for the public to assist us,” stated David Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.

For 27 years the PFFNH and the Muscular Dystrophy Association have paired together to ride for a cure. This year’s three day bike ride begins on June 27th at the Canadian-NH boarder north of Pittsburg and ends on June 29th in Portsmouth. This 250 mile bike ride has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years for MDA and the work they do.

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire are asking for people to join in on this great cause and participate in this year’s Trans NH bike ride. Riders can participate in any number of days. Every amount raised helps to find a cure.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is a non-profit organization sponsoring research and treatments for neuromuscular diseases. The International Association of Fire Fighters have partnered with MDA for sixty years, working together to find a cure. The IAFF is MDA’s single-largest fundraising partner through the “fill the boot” drives across the country.

For more information or to sign up for this bike ride, please visit www.transnhbikeride.org.

NH Retirement Security Coalition Comments on First Oral Arguments in “Pension Reform” Case in Supreme Court

NH Retirement CoalitionCONCORD – The New Hampshire Supreme Court heard oral arguments the morning of Thursday, May 15th in regards to the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition (NHRSC) lawsuit challenging so-called “pension reforms” passed by the Legislature in 2011 (Professional Firefighters of NH, et al vs. State of N.H.).

In response to litigation following the disastrous legislation passed in 2011, a Superior Court judge ruled that the increase was unconstitutional for workers who had ‘vested’ in the pension fund. Attorney Andru Volinsky, lead counsel for the NHRSC, argued Thursday to the Supreme Court that public employees ‘vest’ in the New Hampshire Retirement System immediately after accepting the job, not after 10 years (which some have claimed is precedent).

Volinsky asked the justices to think of the pension benefit as an annuity, agreed upon as part of the terms of employment, and something that cannot be changed unilaterally.  The fact that pension annuities are considered not to ‘vest’ for ten years would seem to undermine the growing necessity to attract skilled young people to government work in this state, especially when the pension fund participation is mandatory. The current approach adopted by the 2011 Legislature will scare off, not attract young people to government service.

“When a police officer responds to a potentially life-threatening situation, as we see happen all too often, he or she goes in with 100% commitment to protecting the public interest. The deal is made on day one – that’s the job, that’s the commitment”, said Keith Phelps, President of the New Hampshire Police Association (NHPA).

“What’s to stop them [the Legislature] from raising the price to 25% or higher in the years ahead if the Court allows this broken promise to stand?” said Laura Hainey, President of the American Federation of Teachers – NH.

At stake for the approximately 48,000 public employees in the pension system is $75 million per year in higher costs.  Diana Lacey, President of the largest state employees’ union SEA/SEIU commented, “It’s been almost three years.  They’ve charged us almost $225 million more than they were supposed to for our annuities.  We don’t have the right to strike when they take from us.  If the Courts let this stand, to what end will legislators be able to steal from taxpayers?  That’s what we are and we’re being targeted unfairly.”

For more information on the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, please visit nhretirementfacts.com and follow us @NH_RSC

The Professional Firefighters of NH Are Pleased With Today’s Decision Against LGC

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire are pleased with today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision regarding the ex- Local Government Center and their regulator, the Bureau of Securities Regulation. 

“We applaud the decision of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. This has been a decade long journey to demand transparency from the organization that the public entrusted with their money,” said David Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.

Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire Logo (Via Facebook)Today’s decision validates what the members of the PFFNH organization has always known. Over a decade ago, the PFFNH began to shed light on what they believed to be questionable financial practices at the LGC by filing a series of “Right to Know” requests.

“The board has spent millions of dollars in an attempt to prevent the public from getting their own money back. It is my hope that this decision finally ends the wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. This unanimous decision goes far in making all members whole: both active and retired employees and the taxpayers,” Lang continued.

The PFFNH is pleased that millions of dollars has been returned to cities and towns, taxpayers, and public employees, and will continue to fight to ensure that all members are made whole and tax dollars are spent for the appropriate purposes.

This decision solidifies the Bureau of Securities Regulations authority, under the Secretary of State, to regulate public risk pool entities. The PFFNH applauds their due diligence in protecting the taxpayers of this state.

The Professional Firefighters of NH Call for Continued LGC/NHMA Changes

Concord, NH – David LangPresident of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, today issued this statement regarding the recent leadership changes at the Local Government Center and urges a real institutional change to follow.

Late in the day on Friday the LGC/NHMA announced their Board had changed leadership through the replacement of their current Executive Director with George Bald former DRED Commissioner. Media accounts over the weekend reported key LGC Board as saying the reason for the change was to foster a better relationship with the state’s regulators, as opposed to fostering institutional change within their organization.

“We believe a change such as this was necessary and a step in the right direction, however gauging the comments of key LGC Board members, leads us to believe this to be more window dressing than honest change,” said David Lang, President. “We call on the members of the Board and the senior management of the LGC/NHMA to be held responsible for the current situation. Real institutional change at all levels of this troubled organization need immediate attention and to be addressed and finalized,” Lang continued.

Mr. Lang offered the following comment on the temporary assignment of George Bald. “Mr. Bald has an opportunity to force honest institutional change, and it requires him to demand full transparency, ending the practices of the past, and to follow the decision of the hearing officer and the law,” said Lang. “Absent his ability to do that, subjects the taxpayers, retired, and active employees to further misuse and abuse.”

“Should Mr. Bald wish to clean up this mess, then he can count us in to help him. The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire will not rest until the taxpayers, retired, and active public employees are made whole and transparent institutional change has occurred.”

The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire represent approximately 2,000 active and retired fire fighters and paramedic across New Hampshire from 42 local unions.

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