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Arbitrator rules City of Lockport must restore firefighter staffing

Posted at 11:16 AM, Sep 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-13 20:38:46-04

CITY OF LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — An independent arbitrator has ruled the City of Lockport must immediately restore firefighter staffing, according to the mayor's office.

The arbitrator determined in 2014, when the city reduced the firefighter staffing from nine to six, it violated the union's collective bargaining agreement. The arbitrator also stated the city's firefighters and residents are safer when there are nine firefighters on duty rather than six.

The decision of the former administration to unilaterally reduce fire department manpower was ill-conceived and inevitably left our firefighters and residents at risk. The prior administration’s actions, and failure to create a contingency plan, has placed the City in further economic turmoil.
Mayor Michelle Roman

The mayor's office says despite the positive news of improved public safety, the city will now need to find revenue to meet the requirement of the arbitrator's decision.

As always, my administration will tackle the problems as they arise. In the coming days, we will begin negotiating with our Fire Union to minimize the immediate financial impact of this decision. Further, we are working with State and Federal agencies to seek grants for personnel and equipment. Lastly, my administration will actively work to create new revenue streams to effectuate the employment of a fully staffed Fire Department.
Mayor Michelle Roman

The mayor is also considering reintroducing an ambulance service, which was removed under the former administration, it would be operated by the fire department.

A new program aimed at billing insurance companies for emergency services at vehicle accidents is also being discussed among the mayor and other municipalities.

The Arbitrator’s decision has finally ended a long, arduous and expensive battle between the City and its Fire Union. We cherish our Fire Department and its personnel and we thank them for their selfless dedication to the safety of our City and our residents.
Mayor Michelle Roman