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Settlement nears in firefighter lawsuit against Fredonia

OBSERVER Photo The Fredonia Village Board is expected to name two firefighters to the position of lieutenant.

It appears a lawsuit filed by the Fredonia Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 2931 and Timothy Winters, president of the Fredonia Professional Fire Fighters Association, against the village and Mayor Doug Essek may be near a settlement.

On Monday, the Village Board is expected to name Winters to the position of fire lieutenant and Ben Siracuse as a provisional appointment to the fire lieutenant position. Both will begin on Dec. 1, according to the agenda posted by the village on Wednesday.

In late October, the union filed the suit claiming violations of civil service regulations. According to the firefighters, the position of lieutenant has gone unfilled for years. Winters serves as acting lieutenant.

The union claimed 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 and on Aug. 28 at the Econo Lodge. In both instances, firefighters were asked to assume responsibilities of the lieutenant who was not scheduled for work that day.

“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 case stated.

On Nov. 17, Charles DeAngelo, attorney for the union, sent a letter to Judge Lynn W. Keane noting that “a tentative settlement” had been reached and requested an adjournment of 30 days in the matter.

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