The City of Buffalo has been ordered by a judge to hold a civil service exam for the supervisory post of fire battalion chief and pay the firefighters labor union's $35,000 in court costs, court officials confirmed Wednesday.
The ruling is the culmination of the latest legal skirmish between the city and Buffalo Professional Firefighters Association over 13 open supervisory positions within the department.
However, State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek refused to reinstate expired civil service test results for captains and lieutenants, make Battalion Chief Joseph Fahey's 2-year-old provisional appointment permanent and promote those who are eligible for fire lieutenant under the results of expired tests. He also rejected the union's demand for back pay for affected employees.
In his decision, Michalek pointed to the Oct. 26 testimony of Fire Commissioner Michael Lombardo, who complained of the continuing need to fill supervisory vacancies without civil service eligibility lists, and complained about supervisory problems created by the unfilled positions.
Tracy D. Sammarco, chief attorney for Firefighters Local 282, called the testing requirement "a victory."
Sammarco added that the union "is disappointed that the eligibility lists were not reinstated and that those with the highest scores on competitive tests were not appointed" to officer ranks within the department.
Adam W. Perry, representing the Brown administration, praised the decision and said the city will appeal the judge's ruling on paying the union's court costs.
He also said the city is preparing a civil service test.