‘Disabled’ FDNY retiree a track rescuer
Move over, Johnny Lungs! There is another "disabled" FDNY retiree who is off to the races — NASCAR Cliff.
Cliff Stabner, a 55-year-old New York City firefighter who retired in 2003 with a three-quarter disability pension of $95,000 annually, has surfaced as a member of the fire rescue team responding to crashes at Dover International Speedway in Delaware.
The New York Post has obtained photos of Stabner wearing an orange jumpsuit and a helmet and standing next to a rescue vehicle at Dover’s "Monster Mile" track.
Stabner also is a fire captain in his quaint new hometown of Lewes, Del. He has even been seen climbing roofs.
Stabner’s vigorous post-retirement activities are reminiscent of those of John "Johnny Lungs" McLaughlin, the retired FDNY firefighter from Long Island who left the department with a disability pension after being diagnosed with bronchial ailments — and then competed in numerous marathons and decathlons.
Stabner is believed to have obtained his disability pension — which is 25 percent more than a regular pension — based on lung-related issues. He was overweight at the time, which may have been a factor, a source familiar with Stabner’s case said.
"If you have a disability pension, why are you fighting fires and doing NASCAR?" the whistleblower, who requested anonymity, said.
The private, business-backed Citizens Budget Commission (CBC), which has pushed for an overhaul of the FDNY’s disability-pension standards, also slammed Stabner’s payouts.
"I’d rather have (Stabner) running into a building in New York City rather than rushing to NASCAR accidents if we’re paying a 75 percent disability pension," the CBC’s Carol Kellerman said. "The problem is that many of these firefighters are not really disabled."
About three-quarters of FDNY firefighters retired with disability pensions in recent years, up from 50 percent before 9/11. The FDNY pension fund paid out $588 million for disability pensions last year, more than double the figure from a decade ago.
But Stabner defended his disability status and his retirement activities, insisting he abided by the rules.
"Is that illegal? There are laws? Is that against the pension system? Is it against the law?" he asked.
Stabner was a member of FDNY Rescue Co. 3 in The Bronx, which lost seven firefighters on 9/11, and he participated in rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center.
"It’s 10 years later. I’m banged up from my life physically and psychologically," he said. "I have serious medical issues."
Asked to specify, he said, "That’s my business."