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Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Lockport Common Council voted Wednesday night against a grant that could have temporarily bolstered the size of the city fire department.

The "Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response" grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have allowed the city to temporarily return four laid-off firefighters to active status, had the grant been applied for and approved.

Instead, the Common Council — by a 4-2 vote — directed Acting Fire Chief Pat Brady to apply for a different category of grant aimed at retention. There's no guarantee that the city will be the recipient of the retention grant. In fact, some officials said Wednesday night that the odds are so low that it's useless to bother applying.

The vote on returning four of the five laid-off firefighters was split evenly among the city's six Common Council Members with Kitty Fogle joining Pat Schrader and Anita Mullane in supporting the issue and Aldermen Ken Genewick, Joe Kibler and John Lombardi opposing it.

Mayor Anne McCaffrey had to break the tie. She did so in opposition to the grant, stating that it came with strings attached that the city may not be able to afford.

City politicians and the city's fire department union have been at odds for years about a variety of matters, most notably the size of the department itself. In October, the city defunded five firefighter positions from the budget following a buyout offer that the fire department union rejected.

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