Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nassau County firefighters faced off in the annual BBQ Cook-off on Friday.Nassau County firefighters traded entinguishing flames for firing up their barbeques during their annual BBQ grill-off, using the event as a chance to promote grilling safety.Firefighters gathered in the parking lot of Fairway Marketplace in Westbury to show off their BBQ skills for the 5th Annual Firefighter Cook-off, the first time it wasn’t held at the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center. Aside from winning over the judges, the chefs aimed to teach the public how to be safe as BBQ season gets underway on Long Island.“The one thing you should keep in mind before using any grill is to make sure it is maintained, cleaned and in good shape before you light it,” said John Murray, chief instructor at the firefighter center.Firefighters from Bethpage, Rockville Centre and East Meadow faced off Friday, putting together mouth-watering dishes for a panel of judges, including Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Vincent Olivieri, Fairway’s café executive chef.The parking lot was filled with free food, drinks, and samples from 24 different vendors along with a DJ, as residents and shoppers cheered for their local firefighters.Each team was given a $100 shopping card to select their choice of meats, spices and other ingredients to try and win the judges over.The firefighters center in Garden City opened in 2006 to educate Long Islanders about fire safety and prevention as well as showcase their history. Fairway sponsored this and a number of other grill-offs all across the tri-state area.“We are constant supporters of theirs every year,” said Jacqueline Donovan, vice president of Fairway marketing, “We love to give back to the community, and we love to educate the public.”Winning 1st place was a tie between The Bethpage and Rockville Centre fire departments. They won a $500 gift card to Fairway and later all will be invited to attend a shopping night for the firefighters’ charity of choice.
The five largest Dutch pension funds reported above-average returns for 2019, despite low or even negative results for the last quarter.The €466bn civil service scheme ABP posted an annual return of 16.8% – in particular thanks to a 27.4% gain on its equity holdings – and generated 1.5% since September.Private equity, commodities and infrastructure yielded 22.3%, 16.5% and 13.3%, respectively.Hedge funds and property contributed with returns of 7.1% and 18.4%, respectively, while ABP’s combined interest and inflation hedge added 1.7 percentage points. However, it lost 1.4% on its currency cover. Highest returnThe €238bn healthcare pension fund PFZW’s quarterly return was flat. But with an annual return of 18.8%, it reported the best result of the five largest schemes.However, its liabilities rose by no less than 17.7%, mainly due to falling interest rates.Although the pension fund lost 4.2% on government bonds in the last quarter, it achieved a result of 6.3% for the entire year.Equity and listed property generated 23.9% and 20.2%, respectively, in 2019, and yielded 6.7% and 1.2%, respectively, in the fourth quarter.Commodities yielded 26.1% during the entire year, and 12.6% since September.Metal schemesBoth the metal schemes PMT (€84.7bn) and PME (€55bn) posted annual results of 18.1%, despite losing 2.3% and 0.8%, respectively, in the last quarter.PMT lost 8.6% on its liabilities portfolio comprising 46% of its entire assets.Equity, high yield investments and real estate yielded 23.4%, 12.7% and 14% in 2019.Due to rising interest rates and consequent effect on its fixed income holdings, BpfBouw, the €66.2bn scheme for the building sector, saw its assets drop by €360m in the last quarter. PMT and PME reported a similar loss.The building scheme lost 0.4% in the past three months, but returned 17.6% for the full year.With returns of 26.7%, 11.8% and 16%, respectively, equity, property and alternatives were the main contributors.UnderfundedFour of the five largest schemes closed the year with coverage ratios ranging from 95.8% (ABP) to 97.6% (PMT), which would classify the schemes as underfunded under the financial assessment framework (FTK).However, social affairs’ minister Wouter Koolmees has decided to reduce the minimum required funding level from 104.3% to 90% for 2020, pending the review of the pensions agreement.Both Corien Wortmann, chair of ABP, and Peter Borgdorff, director of PFZW, highlighted the importance of designing new pensions arrangements.They said their minimum funding must be raised to the official level of 104.3% in order to avoid rights cuts in 2021.Wortmann added that ABP also expected interest rates to remain low in the coming years, and for returns to be no more than 4% on average.“Crazy”Benne van Popta, PMT’s employer chair, said he expected 2020 to become a “difficult year because of developments on the financial markets as well as new regulation”.Jos Brocken, the scheme’s employee chair, also emphasised the need for quick pensions reform.He said continuous looming rights cuts, as a result of a fluctuating coverage ratio despite high returns, were driving PMT’s participants “crazy”.