Ex-firefighter says FD threatened to take away benefits if he didn't get surgeryPosted: Updated:
A permanently disabled firefighter says the White Plains Fire Department threatened to take away his benefits if he didn't get surgery.
James Sestito says he was a firefighter in White Plains for years before he got injured battling a fire in 2011 fire while working with Station 1.
"I landed on my left side, but primarily on my upper...neck," he says.
Sestito tells News 12 years later, the White Plains Fire Department ordered him to get surgery on his neck or else he could lose his 207A benefits, which are financial help for injured first responders.
He says it sounded like a threat to him.
Sestito says the operation was unsuccessful and that now his pain in his neck, arms and back is worse than before. He says the pain has also affected his wife, Samantha.
"I'm not the husband I used to be," he says.
His wife says she feels like she's failing him as a wife because now they're having trouble starting a family.
She says her doctor has said that the stress has led to the increase of infertility issues.
The couple says they hope their story leads to change, perhaps taking power over 207A benefits out of the hands of municipalities.
"In my opinion it's biased for denying your injury at work, and those same people are the ones who decide if I get benefits or not. That's a little odd to me. I think there should be an outside party deciding long-term benefits," he says.
Ultimately, they say they hope the White Plains Fire Department will do the right thing.
News 12 reached out to Chief Richard Lyman and Mayor Thomas Roach for comment, but has not heard back.