MOUNT VERNON - As the back and forth between Mount Vernon and its firefighters continue, News 12 has learned a fire supervisor called out sick today but overtime pay was not used to find a replacement.

Instead, a chief at a firehouse 1 ½ miles away was supposed to meet the firefighters at the scene in the event of a fire.

Mayor Ernie Davis alleges that firefighters are abusing their sick time.

"We will make sure safety is not compromised," says Davis. "If there is a missing link in any fire station, then we will obviously make sure that the leadership is there to deliver services."

The union says the issue isn't overtime.

"He's trying to disguise his arrogance for righteousness and he's arrogant,” says Ernie Richardson, union president. “He hates the fire department."

The mayor has said that he has nothing against the firefighters, but that some are “compromising the integrity of the organization.”

About 20 percent of the department is currently on long-term disability, and the union says even with those men, the department is understaffed.