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FIREFIGHTER WILL BE SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY, PENDING HEARING

A city firefighter will be suspended today without pay, pending a civil service hearing in which he faces three disciplinary charges.

The City Council on Tuesday voted 4-1 to bring charges against Richard Tackentien, employed several years as a paid firefighter.

Under Article 75 of the Civil Service law, Tackentien has eight days to respond before a hearing officer is called in. Robert McCarthy of Williamsville has been contacted to serve as hearing officer.

Alderwoman Lana Riley said the charges Tackentien is facing are:

While serving as a duty officer, he allowed Firefighter Richard Halom to perform maintenance on a personal vehicle contrary to a city directive.

Contrary to the union contract, Tackentien failed to use the time clock installed late last year.

In violation of a city directive, Tackentien parked his personal vehicle in an area at City Hall designated for use by volunteer firefighters.

Alderman William Ferguson -- whose son and wife are firefighters -- voted against bringing the charges.

"The problem is we never used this law in the past when there were problems," said Mayor Carmen Vecchiarella.

The mayor said he has spent several weeks learning about the law, and with advice from the city attorney brought the matter before the Council.

Should the issue proceed before a hearing officer, McCarthy would have several options: impose a $100 fine or a suspension of up to 60 days, issue a reprimand or order dismissal.

"The Council can then accept or override his decision," Vecchiarella said. "Ultimately the Council has the final say in this."

Tackentien, a city firefighter since 1991, declined to comment, saying he will seek legal advice.

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