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Report: Firefighters' benefits at stake

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The firefighters' union is fighting for their pension by hiring their own team to look at the city's dire predictions in a report released Thursday. The firefighters' union is fighting for their pension by hiring their own team to look at the city's dire predictions in a report released Thursday.
Malone says firefighters will leave if the city changes the way things are. Malone says firefighters will leave if the city changes the way things are.

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis Firefighters Association is fighting a new kind of battle. Benefits are now at stake.

The firefighters' union is fighting for their pension by hiring their own team to look at the city's dire predictions in a report released Thursday.

"It's not nearly in as dire straits as they are saying, and basically the taxpayer is getting a hell of a deal on this system," said Thomas Malone with the MFA.

That was Malone's conclusion after getting back the report, which was paid for by the firefighters so their own actuary could look at the pension numbers from the city. The city says their numbers show a massive overhaul is necessary to avoid a future shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars. That the plan is not sustainable for the long haul.

"Firefighters just don't hire on just for the money. They hire on for the benefits for them and their family," said Malone.

The city's report blames the recession for the problem.

Malone says firefighters will leave if the city changes the way things are. Memphis city council member Myron Lowery just received the report, too.

'The more eyes and ears we have looking at this the better off we are, so I applaud the fire department for taking the time to spend the dollars to do this," said Lowery.

He says the firefighters' numbers are better than the city's, but the debate over pensions is not close to being over,

"Unions are here to protect their employees and to not give an inch," said Lowery.

The union and the city will meet next week to talk about the new numbers. The city council has the ultimate vote, but that is a long way off.

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