LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) - The mayor of Lackawanna says un-warranted overtime is burning up the taxpayers' money, and in response, he shut down a firehouse.
Lackwanna's bravest have racked up 856 hours of overtime in the last two weeks, and Mayor Geoff Szymanski calls it abuse.
"When the 856 hours was presented to me for overtime, that is when I blew a fuse," Szymanski said.
The mayor felt the need to put that fire out quickly and closed Fire Hall 2 on Abbott Road temporarily, sending those firefighters to the other two firehouses, on South Park and on Ridge Road.
Szymanski said, "So we called in the public safety director, the fire chief, and said this is what is going on, this happened in the last two weeks, and we have to change it right now."
Union representative Lt. Jim Fino responded, "I don't feel it is abuse."
The firefighters' union says overtime is up because of retirements, injuries, and people are taking vacation. Under their labor contract, vacation time is "use it or lose it."
"We are short-staffed," Lt. Fino said. "We have individuals that use their accrued time, whether it be vacation time, holiday time, or personal time."
The mayor says right now, if a shift is short two or more firefighters, Fire Hall 2 will close and the firefighters at Fire Hall 2 will be used to fill those vacancies. If the shift is fully staffed, Fire Hall 2 will reopen as usual. It's status can fluctuate shift-to-shift.
"Response times should be just a little bit behind the normal time, but the Lackwanna Fire Department's response time is far ahead of the national standard, and the national average," Szymanski said.
Lt. Fino argued, "And that will increase the response times to that section of the city, which will affect everybody's safety that calls for help."
The firefighters' union, Local 3166 of the International Association of Firefighters, charges the mayor's decision to close Fire Hall 2 could jeopardize their safety. The union has been without a contract for three years, and a spokesman told News 4, one of their proposals would actually reduce overtime.
A jury has convicted 16-year-old Dylan Schumaker of second degree murder in the death of his girlfriend's young son.
A second arrest has now been made in connection to a suspected meth lab on Saunders Settlement Road in Cambria.
Minor Lk Snow develops & shifts south. Lake Snow increases later Tue north & settles south.
The Erie County Water Authority is warning the public about people posing as water meter service workers.
A City of Buffalo employee who was arrested over the weekend on animal cruelty charges says he did nothing wrong.
America's oldest state park is in the midst of a major makeover and officials are giving a clearer picture of what's next for Niagara Falls.