Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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April 14, 2014

City to file another stay against fire union action

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — More legal action is expected to be taken today by the City of Lockport concerning a demand for arbitration made by its firefighter union, the Lockport Professional Firefighters Association, over whose responsibility it is to open the large overhead garage doors of the fire station.

The city plans to file an order to show cause petition requesting a stay of that arbitration, which was requested in a grievance the union filed March 14 with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board. 

In December, the city installed remote control devices in each of the trucks “in order for the firefighters to have the option of opening the overhead garage doors of the Fire Department upon reentry or exit of the fire apparatus (vehicles) from fire rescue calls, exercises or other duties,” the city said in its petition.

The city said in its court filing, the fire department — namely Chief Thomas J. Passuite with “participation” from the union — put together a new “standard operating procedure” concerning the opening and closing of the overhead garage door. But in its grievance, the firefighter union said that new procedure violated an agreement the department made with police in May 2010.

That’s when police took over communication and dispatch duties for the fire department. And according to that agreement, city police also started handling the operation of the overhead doors with a remote control device from the police headquarters and communications center, located at City Hall, One Locks Plaza. The agreement says LFD has to notify police dispatch when they need the doors open, otherwise the doors remain closed.

The city fire station is located on the north side of City Hall, where Niagara, Church, Canal and Cottage streets all meet. The overhead doors of the fire station face Niagara Street.

Prior to the change in how dispatching was handled, the Fire Department exclusively operated the doors with some occasional assistance from Lockport Police, according to court documents.

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