Buffalo’s iconic Edward M. Cotter fireboat to undergo major repairs

Local News

Buffalo’s famous fireboat, the Edward M. Cotter, is getting major repairs. Assemblyman Sean Ryan and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced a $500,000 state grant will go to repairs for the boat. 

It’s believe the Cotter is the oldest active fireboat in the world. It’s been in service 118 years, since 1900. 

“Lets see if you can believe this… the Cotter boat started working before Arizona was even a state,” Assemblyman Ryan said. “There were 45 stars on the flag when the Cotter boat first went into service.”

The Cotter underwent a major rebuild in 1953, and now will undergo another major facelift. Repairs will include a total replacement of the ship’s hull, replacement of the ship’s propellors, and the welding of about 800 rivets. The rudder, tail shafts and main engine will also get worked on.

The Cotter is an active fire engine, and is the only boat the city has to clear and break the ice in our city’s waterways.

“If we did not have the Cotter for that purpose, there would be the cost of an additional tens of thousands of dollars to hire another vessel to perform that function,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. 

“You have to treat this like boat like it’s the last snowplow in the city,” John Sixt said, the boat’s captain. “So if you only had one snowplow , you try to maintain it and keep it running. That’s the best way I can put it.”

Assemblyman Ryan, who secured the grant, has a personal connection to the Cotter. His father was a firefighter for the Buffalo Fire Department, and spent the last year working on the boat.

“When I was a teenager, I had the privilege of going out on the Cotter during one of the Spring-time shakeouts,” he said. 

The Cotter, which is a national historic landmark, will have to leave Buffalo in the Spring, for the repairs. The boat’s captain said there are no dry docks in Buffalo, to do this work. It will take four to six weeks to complete everything. 

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