City files lawsuit to overturn order that it must hire more firefighters

An arbitrator ordered that staffing at the New York department must increase from six firefighters per shift to nine


Thomas J. Prohaska
The Buffalo News, N.Y.

LOCKPORT, N.Y. — The City of Lockport went to State Supreme Court Monday to appeal a state arbitrator's ruling that the city must hire more firefighters.

The city's lawsuit called arbitrator Michael S. Lewandowski's Sept. 8 ruling "totally irrational."

The City of Lockport went to the New York Supreme Court to appeal an arbitrator's decision that it must hire more firefighters. (Photo/Petr Kratochvil)
The City of Lockport went to the New York Supreme Court to appeal an arbitrator's decision that it must hire more firefighters. (Photo/Petr Kratochvil)

Lewandowski ordered minimum firefighter staffing increased from six to nine per shift, reversing a reduction made during Lockport's 2014 financial crisis, when it also privatized ambulance service. Compliance with the order would require 12 more firefighters, three for each of four platoons.

Mayor Michelle M. Roman at first said an appeal probably would fail, but changed her mind Sept. 25 after her opponent in the November election, Alderman David R. Wohleben, introduced a resolution demanding an appeal. Roman won the election.

No money to hire more firefighters is included in the 2020 city budget. Roman said during the campaign that she planned to apply for federal grants to hire firefighters and buy new ambulances.

The attorney for the city, Bryan J. Goldberger of Albany, has represented the city in labor litigation since 2013.

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©2019 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.)

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