Firefighters union takes on Fredonia over supervisor post

The Fredonia Fire Department.

A Fredonia firefighter awaiting a promotion — and two fires handled without immediate supervision in late August by the village department — has led to a filing in state Supreme Court in Mayville.

Fredonia Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 2931 and Timothy Winters, president of the Fredonia Professional Fire Fighters Association are taking on the village and Mayor Douglas Essek for violating civil service regulations.

According to the firefighters, the position of lieutenant has gone unfilled for years. Winters currently serves as acting lieutenant but has yet to be moved to the official title.

The union claims the consequences of village’s continued assignment of Firefighters to perform Acting Lieutenant duties puts them at “grave risks and further exposure of the taxpayers of the Village of Fredonia to greater losses.”

The fires referenced included an incident on Aug. 25 at 24 University Park.

Due to no fire lieutenant beingscheduled, Winters was the ranking firefighter on shift, requiring him to assume the responsibilities of the lieutenant who was not scheduled that day.

Winters assumed the role of Incident Command in the absence ofa scheduled officer. With reports of occupants trapped, Winters called for a second alarm and supervised all Firefighters on the scene during the initial search and suppression.

Once Chief Ryan Walker was on scene, he took command — 30 minutes after the call. “The senior Firefighter had to act as a Fire Lieutenant in that all supervisory functions and command decisions were required to be performed by him in the absence of a lieutenant,” the document states.”

Another fire that week — on Aug. 28 — at the Econo Lodge forced the same situation. Firefighter Brent Johnson was the ranking Firefighter on shift, causing him to assume the responsibilities until Walker arrived 15 minutes later.

“The practice of designating Firefighters to serve as Acting Lieutenants is contrary to Civil Service Law which provides that civil service employees may not be regularly assigned to perform the duties of a higher level civil service position without appointment to the title, grade and salary of such higher position, and is contrary to the New York State Constitution,” the filing states.


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