Dallas Firefighters Leave City As Pension Troubles Loom

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DALLAS (CBS11)The Texas House of Representatives voted unanimously during a final vote on Thursday to approve the Dallas Police & Fire Pension bill.

The decision now rests in the hands of Texas state senators.

For some firefighters, the decision does not come soon enough.

Former Dallas Fire-Rescue captain Steven Coffman decided a few months ago to retire early.

“It’s tough to leave something you’ve been doing for so long,” said Coffman.

aretire Dallas Firefighters Leave City As Pension Troubles Loom

Steven Coffman – retired Dallas firefighter  (Jeff Paul – CBS11)

The Oak Cliff native walked away after nearly 34 years of service and feels he left several years of work in the tank.

“I think that was probably one of the hardest things for me, feeling like I was letting other people down,” said Coffman.

The money was not there and he was worried his pension would eventually disappear.

His career is now a memory.

“You think of all the close calls,” said Coffman. “I’ve been in houses that have literally fallen down around us.”

Coffman feels it is the experience of DFR veterans that has kept so many alive.

“You’ve got people making fire-ground decisions that are life and death decisions,” said Coffman. “Those aren’t decisions that you learn in the academy.”

According to the Dallas Firefighters Association, 100 firefighters have left DFR since October.

DFR lost 122 firefighters for all of the year prior and it is not just retirees.

“I literally have to sit down at the kitchen table and say, ‘Guys, stay in Dallas,’” Lt. Cristian Hinojosa with the Dallas Hispanic Firefighters Association.

Hinojosa said new recruits sometimes will not stick around due to a poor starting salary and now a shaky retirement.

“We’re sending them to the suburbs,” said Hinojosa. “We’re subsidizing their training and the day they become certified firefighter/paramedic, they leave.”

Coffman feels it comes down to a sense of duty. Something he hopes city leaders embrace before it is too late.

“It’s not for a paycheck and it’s not for a pension. But it’s nice to know that’s there at the end of the day when you’re done,” said Coffman. “If you make it.”

The Dallas Firefighters Association estimates it will lose 200 firefighters by the end of the fiscal year.

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