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City Council Approves Tentative Fire Contract

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – A tentative contract that would lift the City's wage freeze for Buffalo Fire Fighters has received its first round of approvals.

The Buffalo Common Council voted in favor of the deal Tuesday. But it was not without debate.

Much of the debate centered around contract language on residency rules and fire company closings. Council president David Franczyk says he wanted the word "domicile" to be included to avoid what he referred to as a large legal loophole. Franczyk fears residency would not be followed due to the contract language.

Franczyk also disagreed with wording that would allow the fire commissioner to temporarily shut down fire companies without Council permission. Currently the council has the final say. Franczyk says the wording would violate the city's charter. But corporation counsel Alisa Lukasiewicz reassured lawmakers that the contract would not affect the power of the Council.

In the end, lawmakers voted 7 to 2 in favor of the five and a half year contract. With union concessions, the deal would provide annual pay raises of 3.4%, and save the City about $8 million.

The contract must now be approved by the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority. The control board could vote on it Wednesday afternoon. If approved, more than 700 city firefighters will take a ratification vote in two weeks.

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