BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sources confirm to News 4 that the City of Buffalo’s emergency services manager and fleet manager positions have been filled after an extensive nationwide search. The hires come months after the Buffalo Common Council called for the positions after the deadly Christmas Blizzard last year.
According to sources close to the matter, Mayor Byron Brown made the hires over the weekend.
Thomas Luby has been hired as The City of Buffalo’s emergency services manager and James J. Cross has been hired as fleet manager, the mayor’s office announced Tuesday.
Luby is said to have 30 years of experience in the New York City Fire Department and Cross has more than a decade of experience in vehicular fleet management.
The city released the lengthy winter snow plan report on Monday and submitted it to the Common Council for review. The deadline for the plan is Nov. 1.
It includes a tiered system for storm classification, separating major storms from typical Western New York snowfall. As the storm’s severity increases, the city says more resources will be available and equipment pre-positioned.
“Pulling our DPW team together but I think as a City, the plan gives a glimpse into some other departments as well,” Department of Public Works Commissioner Nathan Marton said Monday. “As we know in Buffalo and Western New York, we get a lot of standard snow events. When we get to that tier 2 or tier 3, large amounts of snow that we know are going to be lake effect snow, we will have strong communication about what we might see and where we might see it.”
There will also be more county and state involvement as the storm severity changes. The city is also adding 10 new snow plowing vehicles, including six from the NYS Thruway Department that the city already has and four that the city purchased. Marton expects those to be in by the end of the year. Also, $1 million has been set aside to pay for emergency snow removal, including hiring private contractors. The city says it will also communicate with Erie County to coordinate the response with the new equipment.
“It does involve pre-positioning. A lot of conversations with the county and our contractors and their contractors about when we see it coming, can and will be pre-position ahead of the storm to accelerate some of that clean up afterwards,” Marton said.
There are also nine warming shelters identified throughout the city; the city says there is one in every common council district. The city believes that is enough for residents, so long as people are made aware of the storms before they arrive.
“Our goal is to say a storm is going to hit a part of the city. This shelter is open or those shelters are open. Please get there ahead of the storm,” Marton said.
The plan also calls for coordination between the city’s police, fire and public works departments. The city’s fire union says there hasn’t been any preparation for this winter and is critical of the fire commissioner’s work as the emergency manager.
”I don’t want there to be terrible storms, but we’ll see if they do the things they are going to do,” Vinny Ventresca, president of the Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local 282, said. “It’s all reactionary. It’s never preparedness. I don’t know. I’m just frustrated.”
The Buffalo Common Council will be discussing the report tomorrow at their meeting. It is listed on the agenda, however, the public will have to wait to comment on it until next week.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.