Okla. firefighters protest possible changes to pension

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Crowds of firefighters at the Capitol are fired up over the possible consolidation of their pension board and staff with other pension plans that represent workers in other fields like teachers, troopers and judges.

Ardmore Fire Department captain Brian McDaniel wants their pension plan to maintain its independence.

"We have individual boards that direct the investments and management of those funds," he said. "We want to keep it that way."

But Governor Fallin, who supports efforts to streamline the management and operations of various pension plans, says the consolidation would save the state 15 percent of the $80 to $100 million it spends each year to administer the pensions.

Captain McDaniel is also concerned about Senate Bill 1062, which seeks to reduce compensation benefits available to injured workers, including firefighters.

"The terrible downfall to that is there's not a provision in there for firefighters that are injured or killed in the line of duty," said Capt. McDaniel.

Measures are being proposed to help close an $11 billion dollar unfunded liability facing the state pension system.

Representative Randy McDaniel said he's worked with firefighters for three years listening to their own ideas.

"As you know the solutions require some shared sacrifices," said the Representative.

Some of those proposed sacrifices include firefighters and cities paying more into system, raising the retirement age, and increasing the minimum years worked to receive benefits.

These pension issues are being hotly debated at the legislature with a lot on the line for firefighters and other workers across the state.

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