BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The city of Buffalo and members of the fire department remain at odds over the city’s snow plan for the upcoming winter, one day after the Buffalo Common Council tabled the plan during a meeting on Wednesday.
The tabling will leave the city without a snow plan for at last a few more weeks.
Discussions began since the December 2022 blizzard killed dozens of people in the area, the majority of which were in the city. Now that the winter season inches closer, those discussions have been amplified.
“My main concern is that for four years since they hired the commissioner, he is the emergency management coordinator, he did nothing to prepare us for the last storm. Days before the storm, he left town, leaving the city and the town wholly unprepared for the last storm,” Vinny Ventresca, the president of the Buffalo Firefighters Union Local 282, said Thursday. “Then in January we convene again and say we don’t have the equipment, the training, anything to operate for a winter storm and here we are, mid-November, 11 months later, and nothing has been done.”
The city maintains that they have purchased new equipment and did so before the November storm. That includes new aerial ladders, a new engine pumper, two 4×4 pickups, four UTVs, five snowmobiles, among other additions.
Ventresca listed several issues with the new equipment, saying that some of it is not here and other pieces are not in service. He also said that they need to be trained on the new equipment.
However, city officials downplayed those concerns.
“I don’t want to go tit for tat with our union president or comment on his lack of knowledge or experience or things like that,” Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo said Thursday.
Renaldo said that the city spent around $11 million on the new equipment, saying “we’ve taken a significant step as far as that goes,” and that much of the equipment that is not here yet will be arriving soon.
The union, however, maintains that this is not good enough.
“It’s November. I don’t know how those things getting here sometime in December could fulfill our needs,” Ventresca said.
Both want to keep the city of Buffalo and its residents safe during the winter.
“We all had to look ourselves in the mirror, lessons learned from the November and the December blizzard, what can we do to be better,” Renaldo said.
“Our big concern is not only the safety of the members,” Ventresca said. “It’s the safety of the citizens. Can you imagine that we’re in a state where we had a loss of over 40 lives and nothing has been done?”
You can watch both interviews with Ventresca and Renaldo in full below.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.