BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It’s been over 10 months since Buffalo was hit by a deadly blizzard. The City says they are ready for the next winter emergency. Still the president of the Firefighter’s Union has a very different view on if the department is ready for such an event.
“There’s a loss of over 40 lives, no one is held responsible. Then in January we convene again and say we don’t have the equipment, the training, or anything to operate for a winter storm. So here we are mid-November, 11 months later, and nothing has been done,” said Firefighter’s Union President Vinny Ventresca.
The city responded to that sentiment, sending News 4 a list equipment that they have purchased and say is in house, in use and whatever is outstanding will be in town relatively soon.
“[We spent] a little bit under $11 million on apparatus, equipment and specialty vehicles. So, we’ve taken a significant step as far as that goes,” stated Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo.
“Thats factually untrue, those UTV’s and snowmobiles are not here. It is November and I don’t know how getting those things sometime in December can fill our needs,” responded Ventresca.
While the new Engine 2 and aerial ladders are a welcome addition, Ventresca says the next youngest Engine is 4 years old. With the oldest beginning service in 2005, 18 years ago.
Vintresca says his members are also concerned about training on the new equipment, and whether they’d have enough time before the next big snowfall.
“When they get the equipment some time before maybe next year, then they must train the members and they must train several members so that we can operate on the four-platoon system. The members can operate this equipment, whoever is working can operate this equipment and then where are they going to put it,” Ventresca added.
Renaldo says training has been a priority for the department, especially among the senior staff.
“Myself and a lot of our senior leadership, not only in the fire department but the other parts as well have taken several courses. We participated in many tabletop exercises,” said Ronaldo.
So, is the city of Buffalo any better prepared this year than it was last winter? It should be a simple answer but even here, the two differed.
“Yes, in many areas, I call them our key readiness indicators, which are our apparatus and equipment, our personnel, along with our communication and coordination internally and externally,” Ronaldo added.
“The citizens should be concerned; we want everyone to be safe and we are not being provided the proper equipment for us to be safe. Thus, for us to safely operate and protect the citizens,” concluded Ventresca.