Posts Tagged Buffalo Grove Fire Department Pension Board

Buffalo Grove Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

Buffalo Grove officials announced Wednesday they are challenging a decision to award a full line-of-duty death pension to the widow of a 51-year-old Buffalo Grove firefighter, arguing not enough evidence exists that his fatal colon cancer was related to his work.

The full pension award for Kevin Hauber’s wife and their four children represented an unprecedented claim and marked the first award of its kind in Illinois after the Buffalo Grove Fire Department Pension Board determined earlier this year that his cancer was caused in the line of duty, village officials said in a statement.

But the board’s decision on a 3-2 vote back in March was made with the “absence of clear evidence or research proving that firefighting has a direct or indirect causal relationship with colon cancer,” officials said.

In announcing their appeal, Buffalo Grove officials said the only appropriate and fiduciary response was to challenge the pension board’s decision, which was reaffirmed by the board in May. Village officials estimated the full, 100-percent pension award would create an additional liability of $1.7 million compared to a 75-percent award that the Hauber family was qualified to receive.

Hauber, a veteran firefighter and paramedic in the village, died in January, roughly four years after being diagnosed with colon cancer. In the statement, officials believe a surviving spouse pension benefit equal to 75 percent of Hauber’s final salary is more appropriate than 100 percent.

The issue over Hauber’s death benefit touches on a volatile debate happening among local, state and federal lawmakers over whether cancer found in firefighters is the result of their work in the line of duty.

To that end, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) began a multi-year study in 2010 of nearly 30,000 firefighters from departments in Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco to better understand the potential link between firefighting and cancer. Researchers found the firefighters who were studied showed higher rates of certain types of cancer than the general U.S. population. Based on U.S. cancer rates, firefighters in the study had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths, which were determined to be mostly digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary cancers.

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Buffalo Grove Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from a letter to the editor at the

Your editorial criticizing Buffalo Grove Firefighter Kevin Hauber’s pension award shortchanged the subject of occupational diseases in firefighters. The pension board’s decision was based on Illinois law, and your editorial showed disregard for that law and the medical evidence behind it.

Hauber’s death to colon cancer is not an anomaly among veteran firefighters. Extensive scientific research shows compelling evidence that specific cancers — including colorectal cancers — are strongly associated with firefighting. That evidence is a result of extensive university studies as well as that of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The editorial also neglected to recognize other critical medical factors: Hauber’s age, family, personal health history, and genetic testing showed he was not a colon cancer risk. Rather, an overriding environmental risk for the 23-year veteran firefighter was cited as evidence of increased risk to colorectal cancer.

Any attempt at empathy for his widow and children was negated by the contention that the pension vote was a misguided gesture. Indeed, it is irresponsible to ignore Illinois law while criticizing the pension board.

Illinois law governing presumptive disability states, “The type of cancer involved must be a type which may be caused by exposure to heat, radiation or a known carcinogen as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.” Furthermore it says that the cancer must “arise as a result of service as a firefighter.”

Hauber was exposed over 23 years to soot, asbestos and formaldehyde. The IARC identifies them as primary carcinogens associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Not every firefighter succumbs to the ravages of colon cancer, just as not all airline mechanics get sucked into jet engines. But a reasonable person takes time to read scientific evidence and why it is incorporated into state law.

— Pat Devaney, president, Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, Springfield

thanks Dan

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Buffalo Grove Fire Department news (more)

Excerpts from the

Buffalo Grove’s Firefighters Pension Board on Monday reiterated its findings that the January death of a firefighter from colon cancer was job-related and his family deserves his full pension as a result.

The finding, initially made in March, would grant the family of Firefighter/Paramedic Kevin Hauber his full salary of $101,000 annually, instead of a lesser amount had his death been ruled unrelated to his job.

Hauber, who had worked as a Buffalo Grove firefighter since 1994, died earlier this year after a four-year battle with cancer, leaving behind his wife and four young daughters. He was 51.

Pension board President Dan Pasquarella said the panel looked into Hauber’s history in making its decision to find the death was related to his job.

“We did not have one specific incident to tie it to,” he said. “The final say is with the pension board. So we determined it was a line-of-duty death. (The village board) can appeal it. They would have 35 days once we mail the report to them.”

Village manager Dane Bragg said the village has not yet decided whether to appeal the finding in court.

“I would reiterate what we stated after the initial hearing. We were not sure that the pension board’s ruling was consistent with state law,” he said Monday.

Bragg said the village will have its attorney review the findings and then likely discuss it in closed session with the village board.

thanks Dan

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Buffalo Grove Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

The family of 51-year-old Buffalo Grove Firefighter Kevin Hauber was granted a full pension benefit by the pension board, which ruled his fatal cancer was caused in the line of duty.

The ruling, which was approved on a 3-2 vote Friday by the Buffalo Grove Fire Department Pension Board, can be appealed by Village of Buffalo Grove officials who have to pay the pension benefit to the family of the veteran firefighter/paramedic who died in January, roughly four years after being diagnosed with colon cancer .

Following the vote, Buffalo Grove officials said they have not yet decided whether to challenge the ruling but added that the board’s full pension award for Hauber’s type of cancer is unprecedented.

The death-in-the-line-of-duty benefit would ensure Hauber’s wife and four young daughters receive his full annual salary. Conversely, the compensation to a firefighter’s family, who is granted a non-duty-disability pension, typically is a percentage of the employee’s final salary, ranging from 50 percent and upward.

During the pension board hearing Friday, an attorney representing the Hauber family, said two of the three doctors who conducted independent medical reports on the case concluded that Hauber’s death from cancer likely was related to his work as a firefighter. Before the board’s vote, an attorney for the Village of Buffalo Grove who described the case as tragic, urged board members to make their decision based on the evidence, saying “… there’s virtually no evidence at all that this is a line-of-duty pension.”

The three pension board members who voted in favor of granting the full benefit included Buffalo Grove firefighters Dan Pasquarella, and Josh Himmelspach, and retired firefighter Thomas Gough. The village’s human resource director, Art Malinowski, and village resident Ed McKee, voted against granting the duty-related death pension.

Village officials now have 35 days to decide whether to file a motion with the Lake County Circuit Court and appeal the pension’s board’s administrative decision granting the Hauber family the duty-related death benefit.

In a statement, Deputy Village Manager Jennifer Maltas said Buffalo Grove officials will wait to decide whether to appeal the ruling until Clifford, the pension board’s attorney, submits findings of fact, which outline the basis for which the pension board made its decision Friday.

“First and foremost, the Village of Buffalo Grove continues to mourn the loss of firefighter and paramedic Kevin Hauber,” she said. “The village has the responsibility to be the stewards of the taxpayer dollars. Given that there is no precedent for the award of an enhanced pension for this type of cancer, it is not clear whether the pension board’s decision today is consistent with the standards set forth in state law.”

thanks Dan

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