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Judge rules Lockport must hire 12 more firefighters

State Supreme Court Justice Frank Caruso on Thursday rejected the City of Lockport's attempt to invalidate a state arbitrator's order to hire 12 more firefighters.

"He did not give a reason," Lockport Corporation Counsel David J. Haylett said after oral arguments.

"It's a decision the Council will have to discuss," Mayor Michelle M. Roman said.

There is no money for new firefighters in the 2020 city budget.

In 2014, under then-Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey, the city laid off 12 firefighters and cut minimum staffing levels from nine firefighters per shift to six in order to save money during a financial crisis. A state bailout eventually resolved the crisis.

The Lockport Professional Fire Fighters Association challenged the cuts, saying they violated the union's contract.

In September, arbitrator Michael S. Lewandowski ruled in the union's favor and ordered the staffing level restored to nine per shift. To accomplish that, three firefighters would have to be added to each of the Fire Department's four platoons.

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