Niagara Falls Council Chair Questions Overtime | News
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y.- Last February, after just four months on the job, Niagara Falls Fire Chief Roger Melchoir was fired. One year later, the Falls still has no fire chief.
"Definitely the mayor has delayed way too long in hiring a fire chief, by hiring a fire chief it helps control the overtime costs," said Niagara Falls Council Chairman Sam Fruscione. "We had no choice but to employ the battalion chiefs to fill in the shifts."
Fruscione says he believes the move has cost the city in the long run. But just how much is unclear. Base pay for the battalion chiefs in the rotation is about $71,000 to about $72,000 a year, but the final 2011 wages for the chiefs ranged from $107,000 to about $144,000 a year.
2 On Your Side's Sarah Hopkins asked: "In your opinion, is that amount of overtime acceptable?"
"No, absolutely not," said Fruscione. "I fully support having a fire chief at a salary of about $83,000, as versus several hundreds of thousands dollars in overtime."
Daniel Boland, one of the battalion chiefs who was part of the rotation said last year they each received several thousand dollars in back pay, plus other pay that upped their wages.
"We also received EMT pay, we received holiday pay, we received longevity pay, and we receive a clothing allowance, and you know we work overtime at our regular jobs, so not all of that was attributed to us filling in for the chief," said Boland.
But he said all the extra hours on duty did make for a challenging year. So we took the question of why the position has not been filled to Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
"When last we searched for the position of fire chief, I had only a few months in my first term in office," said Dyster. "I hadn't yet been re-elected, and naturally that makes it difficult to hire somebody. You're asking somebody to come on board in what could be the last few months of an administration that could leave office."
"I'd say that's a lot of bull because prior to that, the fire chief under Vince Anello transferred over to Mayor Paul Dyster, so if you're doing a good job, nobody is going to get rid of you," said Fruscione.
Dyster said Thursday was the deadline for applications for fire chief, and he spent the afternoon going through resumes. He says he hopes to hire someone soon.
Meanwhile, Fruscione said there are still three other city jobs that need to be filled- including a position that would ensure the Falls doesn't miss out on available federal dollars.