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Tuesday, April 15, 2014
The bay doors at the Lockport Fire Department have become a point of contention as the firefighters union says they object to remotes the city had installed in fire vehicles. The city says the fire department isn't required to use them. (GOOGLE MAPS SCREENSHOT)

City officials say they installed garage door remotes in all fire department vehicles so they would have the option of opening and closing the doors themselves. The fire department union, Local 963, says they don't want the option — it violates their contract.

The firefighters union filed a grievance over the matter. The city, in turn, asked that the grievance — and its request for arbitration over the matter — be rejected.

Currently the responsibility of opening and closing the bay doors at One Locks Plaza belong to the Lockport Police Department dispatch, which has been handing dispatch duties for both the police and fire departments for nearly four years. In December, however, the city installed remote openers in all fire vehicles.

City officials have said that the fire department isn't required to use the remotes. They can still ask police dispatch to open and close the bay doors as they had since May of 2010, but they don't have to if it's easier for them to do it themselves.

In paperwork the city filed with the state Supreme Court, the city said the union is "objecting to the option, provided for and installed at city expense, of using one of the fingers of a firefighter to press down on a button located on the remote control device within the cab of every fire apparatus in order to open or close the overhead doors of the Fire Department, all for the convenience of firefighters."

"It is utterly incomprehensible to the reasonable taxpayer and the city as to why Local 963 has chosen to waste valuable city resources and thousands of dollars in potential arbitration fees, resources and time in defending this," the city filing claimed.

The city and Local 963 have been at odds for quite a while. The union is working on an old contract, the current one having expired at the end of 2012. The city cut eight firefighter positions at the beginning of the year — one through attrition and seven through layoffs. The department now has 38 members.

Both sides have accused the other of refusing to negotiate over the expired contract.

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