'Excessive Overtime' Forces Lackawanna Fire Station to Close

September 6, 2012 Updated Sep 7, 2012 at 7:23 AM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

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September 6, 2012 Updated Sep 7, 2012 at 7:23 AM EDT

LACKAWANNA, NY (WKBW) - Fire Station Number 2, located on Abbott Road, officially closed its doors Thursday morning. Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski says a state audit showed firefighters racked up more than $511,000 in overtime last year and says the trend is already continuing in this fiscal year.

Szymanski says in just the last pay period, there was 856 hours of overtime documented.

"What concerns me is, when you have 856 hours of overtime in the fire department and there weren't any fires, how do you explain that to the tax payers?," said Szymanski.

"This has been a situation that has been ongoing for quite some time. This is a very drastic step, not one I wanted to do, but with 856 hours of overtime in one pay period we had to do something and something aggressive and immediate."

Under the new policy, the Abbott Road location will remain shut if staffing levels drop below 9 firefighters during any given shift. The fire chief blames budget constraints for the station closing and says residents will have to wait longer for firefighters to respond to calls.

The current firefighters based at the Abbott Road location will be moved to other stations.