Ex-Firefighter in Combat Challenge Rebuts Pension Complaint

Paul Weinburgh, a former Haverhill firefighter whose disability pension is now under review by the state, said Thursday he believes attacks on him are “political” and retaliation for his role in suing the city for harassment a decade ago.

Weinburgh’s participation in the Over 50 Tandem relay race during July’s Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge has made him the subject of a complaint before the state’s Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC).

“I had nothing to hide. I didn’t want to look and feel disabled. I did very little of the challenge. I felt like I was part of something,” Weinburgh, 50, told WHAV. “I did terrible, awful…I can still exercise, but I’m wrecked a day after.” He explained he has been a long-time supporter of the challenge—bringing it twice previously to Haverhill and once to Lowell.

The firefighter, hired in 1997 and a former president of Haverhill Firefighters Local 1011, said he was injured on the job in 2010. Those injuries resulted in four surgeries and left him with a blood clot on his lung. “It almost killed me. I couldn’t walk for six months,” he said. Finally, in 2012, a three-physician panel ruled Weinburgh should receive a disability pension.

Even if he did work, Weinburgh said, state physicians believe he would be a “liability to the fire department” because of his bleeding risk. He explained he is susceptible to bleeding because he takes the blood thinning medicine Coumadin for blood clots.

It is unknown whether the city or an individual filed the complaint about Weinburgh’s participation in the combat challenge.

“It is not our practice to discuss the source of referrals that we receive nor the action that we may undertake in response,” John Parsons, PERAC general counsel, told WHAV this week.

‘Politics’ Behind Challenges to His Disability Pension

Weinburgh said he has been the subject of “harassment” since 2007 when he became a “whistleblower” in his capacity as a union leader. He said he complained the city was bypassing Haverhill residents and hiring New Hampshire people as firefighters contrary to the city’s residency requirements. He said he received a $90,000 cash settlement in 2008 or 2009 after filing a federal suit against the city and then-Fire Chief Richard B. Borden.

He said he has overcome a previous city challenge to his disability pension. In 2013, Weinburgh said, he participated in the Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Road Race. During that race, he said, he helped resuscitate a runner who had suffered cardiac arrest.

“I walked it,” he said.

Weinburgh was implicated five years ago in the emergency medical technician scandal, where a number of firefighters were accused of falsely claiming they had taken refresher courses. Although he was already out on disability leave, Weinburgh was demoted from captain to lieutenant and agreed to pay back his paramedic stipend.

4 thoughts on “Ex-Firefighter in Combat Challenge Rebuts Pension Complaint

  1. 30 Haverhill fire fighters conspired with each other to commit FELONY fraud to steal over $55,000 from city taxpayers by signing a document that they took a Massachusetts State mandated EMT refresher course when they didn’t actually take it. Not only did they commit a FELONY in the theft of the money, they endangered lives by not being current in their EMT training.

    What happened? The incompetent hack mayor fired just one fire fighter who was the ringleader in going around and collecting the fraudulent signatures. The remaining 29 were instructed by the mayor to complete community service and pay back the money they were paid. In talking with MULTIPLE people who are close to this issue over the past few years NONE of this was ever completed. They literally committed FELONY theft that would land most people in jail and the mayor just let them off with no consequences at all. Worst yet, the incompetent mayor recently named William Laliberty, one of the EMT felons, as the new city Fire Chief. The Culture of Corruption within the HFD is alive and well.

    • Jack… where you not hugged enough as a child? Do you honestly think that all these organizations in the state or city just sit around and scheme all day about ways to try and defraud tax payers… of which, they all are? I can assure you, that you’ve spent more time thinking about this than any of them have, try and pick up a hobby, something that will lower your blood pressure, K?

  2. People must realize that many injuries do not seem on the surface to be that bad but can be. If this guy has blood clots and takes Coumadin, then he is a liability. If he falls and gets a bad cut or injury, he will bleed out real fast. There are many meds than can cause this scenario. I know some Vets who are 100% disabled yet they look very healthy. They are disabled due to PTSD. Are there frauds ? Yup. plenty of them. But don’t paint with a broad brush.

    • Jack, I have had a personal conversation with the Commonwealth of Massachuestts Fire Marshall regarding why Massachusetts does not require fire fighters to pass physical fitness tests. As you know, the vast majority of FF could not pass one if their lives depended on it. The reason that was given to me is because passing a test would require FF to work out to be in shape to pass such a test. When they tried this in the past FF used working out as a means to come up with disabilities that were career ending and something cities and towns got holding the bag for financially. The numbers of FF using that scam was so overwhelming they eliminated the FF “requirement” and it is now a subjective issue city by city. As you’d expect, Haverhill’s hack mayor does not require a fitness requirement in any way. The Culture of Corruption within fire departments throughout the state is pervasive, with the HFD at the front of the line of trying to defraud city taxpayers. That is not my opinion, that is documented fact.