The North Tonawanda Fire Department is seeking a quick decision from the Common Council to put an additional fireman in its ranks.
Members of the department and its union head told with the council during a work session Tuesday that it needed to gain permission to send a new hire to a state academy next month in order to replace a firefighter who was recently deemed unable to continue his duties after breaking his back on the job nearly two years ago.
Additionally, the department lost two other members to to retirement in June 2011, who have not been replaced. Losing three members of its department in the last several years is causing weekly overtime during the summer months, when many of its employees take vacation, according to Assistant Chief Richard Kozak.
“For the next two week we have overtime every night,” he said.
Frank Demart, president of Fire Fighters Local 1333, said the outfit he represents would need a hasty answer to give the department time to arrange for the new member to join an 11-week program beginning July 29.
“For us it’s really not a good place to be at,” DeMart said. “Every day we’re short we get overtime.”
DeMart also noted that the city increased the fire department’s 2012 budget in order to make up the difference, though the costs are still exceeding that mark.
Council members did not immediately indicate whether they would back the measure, which DeMart said would require approval by June 30.
In other council news:
• During a special session, several initiatives related to the 24th annual Canal Fest were approved including a July 17 parade and use of a fire tower site on Tonawanda Island.
Contact Reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.