Buffalo Fire Department

Buffalo Fire Department
Buffalo Fire Department
Motto: Ut Vivant Alii
Established 07/01/1880
Staffing Career
Strength 766
Stations 19
Engines 19
Trucks 9
Rescues 1
Fireboats 1
EMS Level BLS Non Transport
Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr.

The Buffalo Fire Department is the principal fire and rescue service for the city of Buffalo, New York. It is the largest fire department in Upstate New York. The Fire Department currently consists of one division which is separated into four battalions, and further separated into 4 platoons. Each platoon works 2 day shifts which are from 0800-1700 hrs followed by 2 night shifts which are from 1700-0800 hrs. This career department consists of approximately 675 uniformed firefighters that serve a population of about 260,000 in a geographic area of approximately 42 square miles (110 km2) The department currently operates 1 Division Chief, 4 Battalion Chiefs, 19 Engine Companies, 9 Ladder Companies, 1 Heavy Rescue, 1 Collapse/Technical Rescue, 1 HazMat/Command Unit and 1 Fireboat. Buffalo on average battles three structure fires a day. Residential structures are typically wooden balloon style framed buildings (Type V) with a relatively high percentage of these abandoned. Typical run statistics show a total of over 35,000 incident responses per year. The department traces its roots to the early bucket brigades, which provided fire services from the early inception of the Village of Buffalo in the early 19th century until the creation of the paid department on July 1, 1880.



The Buffalo Fire Department had its origins from the old volunteer fire companies with names like Pioneer, Neptune, Fillmore, Clinton, Rescue, Citizen's, Defiance, Eagle, Taylor and many others that had protected the emerging city.As the demand for fire protection increased, the increase of population, the department was converted to a paid career department on July 1, 1880. The Buffalo Fire Department, like many other northern cities, had a heavy concentration of Irish firefighters. This continues today with a large presence of Irish-American firefighters within the ranks. Also, high concentrations of Italian, German, Polish, and African-Americans are present in the department as well.

The Buffalo Fire Department at one time consisted of 38 engine companies, 16 ladder companies, 2 snorkels, 2 heavy rescue companies, 11 squad companies, 3 fireboats, and multiple support units. In the past, The Buffalo Fire Department was separated into two divisions (North and South), which were further divided into seven battalions. The Fire Department currently consists of one division which is separated into four battalions, and further separated into 4 platoons. Each platoon works 2 night shifts which are from 1700-0800 hrs and 2 day shifts which are from 0800-1700 hrs.

The beginning of the downsizing of the fire department began in the 1970s. In 1978, Squad companies were all disbanded. Squad companies were two manned light rescues (small station wagons)utilized for first aid calls, now known as EMS calls. Squad 3 was a full sized rescue vehicle which was quartered with Engine 27 on Johnson Street. Engine 27 would crossman the Squad 3 and respond with that apparatus if not on the 1st alarm. If Engine 27 was assigned on the 1st Alarm, the squad would not respond. Engine 27 was closed in 1978, and hence Rescue Company 1 was established and became the BFD's first fully staffed Heavy Rescue Company. On January 1, 1978, Rescue Company 2 was formed and quartered at Engine 37, Ladder 4 quarters, known as "The Big House". Rescue 2 responded to all 1st Alarm assignments within their response district and to all 2nd Alarms in the city. Rescue 2 was phased out and closed July 1, 1994 due to budget restrictions. The closure of numerous frontline companies as well as eliminating Chief's Aids, disbanding 1st, 2nd,& 5th Battalion, etc.; was due to downsizing of the fire department which continued until 2006 with the closing of Engine 24 on Leroy Street and the realignment of several firehouses to more strategic locations.

The Buffalo Fire Department, like many other older cities, had a vast array of street call boxes. At one time the city had a network of over 1,000 call boxes tied into the Alarm Office. While it no longer has that many, the Fire Department Communications Division still maintains a smaller network of street boxes across the city. The Buffalo Police Department stopped using their street boxes many years ago.

Until 1981, the Buffalo Fire Department also included the Buffalo Niagara International Airport crash-fire-rescue unit, designated Engine 7. That unit was transferred to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority in July of that year when the Greater Buffalo International Airport was turned over by the City of Buffalo to the control of the NFTA. Since that time Crash Fire Rescue has been a separate paid fire department.

At one time, the city also had a volunteer auxiliary corps which operated four pumpers and were under the direction of an Auxiliary Chief (CD-9). It was known as the Buffalo Auxiliary Fire Corps. They responded on 3rd Alarm Fires and greater, and assisted with such tasks as stretching hoselines, brand patrol and picking up hose lines.They were a welcome sight back in the 60's and 70's when the B.F.D. responded to almost 100 Multiple alarms a year. They were especially welcomed in the bitterness of Buffalo's notorious winters, where they would pack frozen hose onto the hose tender. This would give the active members who worked the fire a well-deserved rehab downtime.It traced its roots to the World War II era and Civil Defense hype of the 1950s and 1960s but has since fallen out of use with the BFD. The decision to let the "C.D.'s " fade out was made by the senior members of the B.A.F.C., who decided to support the Local 282 members, who have battled the city with firehouse closings and at times, the uncertainty of lay-offs. The Corps. came under the direction of the Erie County Department of Fire Safety until the early 1990s when the City of Buffalo took them over under Mayor Griffin. The city received Federal funding for the Auxiliaries until their disbanding. There had been minor talk of reinventing the old "red helmets" with the Department of Homeland Security, but this did not occur. With the risks of insurance liabilities, the funding costs of personal protective equipment, as well as the use of reserve apparatus had proved cost prohibitive. For many years, some auxiliary members manned the Canteen Truck (F-76), which was quartered at Fire Headquarters, and is called in on all 2nd Alarms and greater to provide refreshments to the firefighters.

On the evening of December 27, 1983 a warehouse at the intersection of North Division and Grosvenor Streets was the scene of the worst disaster and loss of life in the history of the Buffalo Fire Department. The warehouse had contained an illegal 500 gallon propane tank whose valve was broken off while it was moved and the building was in the process of being evacuated. The propane gas started to leak, eventually reaching an open flame. The tank exploded, killing all five firefighters assigned to Ladder 5 and two civilians; it also damaged a dozen city blocks and caused millions of dollars of damage in fire equipment. There is now a memorial at fire call box 191 at the intersection of where the tragedy occurred. Each year on December 27, at 2020 hrs, the Fire Department rings out the alarm 1-9-1 to honor the five brave firefighters of Ladder 5.

The Buffalo Fire Department has also raced to the aid of its Canadian neighbors on several occasions. On April 4, 1904, the City of Toronto, Ontario was in the midst of a massive conflagration, known as the Great Toronto Fire. When the call for help went out, Buffalo firefighters were quick to react. Engines 12 & 13 boarded express trains to Toronto along with the fireboat tender. On October 7, 1960, a massive fire at the Maple Leaf Milling facility in Port Colborne threatened the entire downtown core. The Fireboat Edward M. Cotter along with the crew of Engine 8 were sent to assist in the conflagration and helped save the City of Port Colborne. On August 19, 2004, a young man in Port Colborne was cutting anchor chain in the hold of a large ship when he became entrapped. The decision was made to call a Heavy Rescue Company in to assist. When the Port Colborne firefighters were told Toronto Fire's HUSAR Unit would take over two hours to reach them, the call to Buffalo was made. Within 35 minutes of the initial call for assistance, Rescue 1, HazMat 1, and B-41 were on scene. Needless to say, the story had a positive outcome.

The rich history and tradition of the Buffalo Fire Department continue on. Presently, the Buffalo Fire Department operates out of 19 firehouses. The oldest active firehouse is Engine 19's quarters which are over 120 years old. The newest quarters, Engine 23, opened in 2010. The near future will see new firehouses constructed to replace older, inefficient stations as well as renovations to existing firehouses throughout the city.


The Buffalo Fire Department has recently begun a multi-million dollar replacement of the entire fleet of fire apparatus. Engine Companies 1, 2, 3, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 have all received new American LaFrance Eagle Pumpers with more ordered. Ladders 2, 5, 6, 7, and 14 have received new American LaFrance Eagle Ladders. Ladders 2 and 6 received 100' rear mount towers, Ladders 6, 7, and 14 received 93' midship mounted towers with Ladder 6's current rearmount tower to go to Ladder 10, and Ladder 14's Spartan rearmount tower going to Ladder 4. and Ladder 5 received a rear mount 100' Aerial. Rescue 1 was also replaced with a new American LaFrance custom rescue truck paid for by Homeland Security CBRNE funds. The Department ordered four new Crimson apparatus in 2010 with Ladder 13 first receiving a 103 foot rearmount demonstrator. Later, Engines 4 and 25 received new Crimson Gladiator Pumpers and Ladder 13 upgraded its truck with a new 93 foot Midmount Tower. The last three companies, Engines 22, 33, and Ladder 15 should be upgraded sometime next year. The Arson Investigation Unit recently received a new CBRNE explosives detection vehicle also paid for by Homeland Security funds. As well, All Chiefs and the EMS Lieutenant received new Chevrolet Suburban vehicles. . The department also received 5 new utility pickups, two hazmat trailers, one EMS Support Trailer, as well as new thermal cameras, bunker gear, etc. Former Fire Commissioner Lombardo had utilized grant writing more unlike previous administrations. In June 2009, the Buffalo Fire Department which had applied for a UASI (Urban Area Security Initiative) grant was awarded funds for a new, smaller and more agile fireboat. This fireboat will also be used as a regional tool. Also to note that Engine 20 (Fireboat) was called into service in June 2009 for two days to provide pump operations to a large warehouse fire located on the old Republic Steel grounds in South Buffalo.

Buffalo Fire currently operates 19 Engine Companies, 9 Ladder Companies, 1 Heavy Rescue, 1 Collapse/Technical Rescue, 1 Haz-Mat/Command Unit and 1 Fireboat. In addition, a fleet of 8 reserve engines, 2 reserve ladders, and 1 reserve rescue are at the department's disposal. The Fire Department has dozens of support vehicles for Arson, Commissioners, Chiefs, Communications, Repair Shop, etc.


The Buffalo Fire Department responds on average to 30,000 calls a year. General call types include fire, EMS, and hazardous materials incidents. The Buffalo Fire Department also has mutual aid plans with many local municipalities as well as Canadian fire agencies. For FY' 2005-2006, the BFD responded to 9,844 fire alarm activations, 1,483 confirmed working fires, and 23,543 EMS calls. The call volume has increased since. EMS calls are the most frequent calls the BFD respond to. In its current capacity, the Buffalo Fire Department acts as a first responder only. The BFD responds to mostly "life threatening" squad calls. Calls such as cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest/distress, chest pain, maternity, MVA's, medical alarms, etc. Most Buffalo firefighters are trained to the certified first responder level (CFR-D) while many others are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT-B). There are a handful of Buffalo firefighters that are Intermediates (AEMT-I) and Paramedics (AEMT-P), however due to state protocols they can not render services higher than their agency level, which is Basic Life Support (BLS). The department does not transport patients to hospitals. This is done by Rural Metro Medical Services, a commercial service. Ambulances are dispatched by ADI (Ambulance Dispatch & Inspection), which work hand in hand with the fire department. Ambulances are dispatched to all alarms of fire as well as Level 1 Hazmat responses. Also the Erie County S.M.A.R.T. (Specialized Medical Assistance Response Team) aids the fire department on bus accident calls, MCI's, and Hazardous Materials Incidents. S.M.A.R.T. is staffed by ER doctors from the Erie County Medical Center which allows for quick MD access to patients. The Buffalo Fire Department has been looking again into providing their own ambulance service as well as implementing a revamped Squad company that would be an ALS flycar to assist the commercial ambulance service at peak times, but so far those talks are preliminary.

Hazmat calls are specialized responses handled by specific crews in the BFD. The crew of Engine 3, where Hazmat 1 is now quartered, mans the specialized truck on all Level 1 Hazmat Responses as well as simple spill calls. If Engine 3 is unavailable, the crew of Rescue 1 will respond with Hazmat 1. The Buffalo Fire Department also responds to Hazmat calls for the Town of Elma which is in the eastern suburbs. Elma, home to companies such as Motorola, Moog, signed a contract a couple of years ago with the City of Buffalo to provide Hazmat response in the event of an emergency.

Buffalo on average battles a structure fire once a day. The city is heavily laden with wooden balloon style framed buildings, multiple vacant warehouses and industrial buildings. In some cases these structures are just inches apart and since many are vacant they are very attractive for career arsonists and the wannabe firebug. The city has begun a process to demolish the over 10,000 vacant structures in an effort to detract arsons and keep firefighters safe. Also, the city in conjunction with several city departments has begun marking vacant structures with a uniformed system. Any structure that has a red square on it means an interior attack, if needed, is safe to enter. However structures with a red square with an X mean that the structure is unsafe and an interior attack is ill advised and only an exterior attack is warranted.

Buffalo's Arson Investigation Unit is one of the busiest arson squads in the country. Buffalo's Fire Marshals are armed firefighters invested with the powers of arrest. They respond to all structure fires when requested by the command officer as well as investigate small fires to assert if it was truly accidental or an arson was committed. Buffalo has a high rate of arsons due to the over 10,000 vacant structures within the city limits. They were quartered out of Engine 20 (Fireboat) on Ohio Street for years but recently have moved into Engine 2's quarters at Elmwood and Virginia allowing more room for staff as well as quarters for some of their apparatus. Also the Arson Squad has increased its arrests in the last few years.

The BFD has seen much restructuring within the ranks during the past decades with the population in the city dwindling from a high of 600,000 in the 1950s to less than 292,000 in 2006. Since 1994 alone, the Fire Department has disbanded six engine companies (10,13,16,18,24 & 30), four ladder companies (1,9,11 & 12), and a heavy rescue company (2).

However, the Fire Department still utilizes some of its closed firehouses. Engine 18 (Annex 18) on Fillmore Avenue is used by the Training Bureau as an offsite location. Engine 10 (Annex 10) on Ganson Street is used as a HazMat office, storage for reserve apparatus, as a well as a Haz Mat Training site. BFD is maintaining Annex 10; in the event of a rebirth on the waterfront it still holds an ideal location for a firehouse. Engine 24 on Leroy Avenue has been heavily vandalized since it was closed as an active firehouse. However it is utilized as a storage facility for the various support trailers as well as home of the department's spare Rescue, old Rescue 1. B-56's old SUV is quartered along with the old Shop Van. No more firehouse/company closings are expected for the foreseeable future. Through all the turmoil, they have still lived up to their motto "Ut Vivant Alii" ("So others may live").

Run Statistics

Top Engines '09

Company Runs
Engine 2 3,421
Engine 37 2,994
Engine 23 2,581
Engine 22 2,504
Engine 1 2,300

Top Ladders '09

Company Runs
Ladder 4 1,857
Ladder 7 1,801
Ladder 6 1,781
Ladder 2 1,588
Ladder 14 1,580

Current Firehouses and Apparatus Assignments

Current BFD Units
Station Location Engine Ladder / Special Service Other
Headquarters 195 Court Street - Repair Shop, F-7, F-8,F-9, F-76, and Misc. Units EMS Lieutenant (F-20)
Dispatch 332 Ellicott Street - Communications Division Radio Repair Unit
Training Tower 3359 Broadway Street - Training Bureau Fire Academy
1 132 Ellicott Street Engine 1 Ladder 2 DECON Support Trailer 1
2 376 Virginia Street Engine 2 Arson / Fire Marshals Division Chief
3 609 Broadway Street Engine 3 3rd Battalion Chief
4 939 Abbott Road Engine 4 Reserve Engine Reserve Engine
Annex 10 315 Ganson Street Reserve Engine Reserve Engine Training Bureau
Annex 18 1030 Fillmore Avenue - Training Bureau -
19 209 Forest Avenue Engine 19 - -
20 155 Ohio Street - Fireboat Cotter -
21 1229 Jefferson Avenue Engine 21 Ladder 6, Rescue 1 Collapse Rescue
22 1528 Broadway Street Engine 22 - -
23 3226 Bailey Avenue Engine 23 - -
Annex 24 108 Leroy Avenue Shop Van Bus (F-165) Reserve Rescue
25 517 Southside Parkway Engine 25 Ladder 10 6th Battalion Chief
26 703 Tonawanda Street Engine 26 - -
28 1174 East Lovejoy Street Engine 28 - -
31 2025 Bailey Avenue Engine 31 Ladder 14 -
32 700 Seneca Street Engine 32 Ladder 5 -
33 1720 Fillmore Avenue Engine 33 ATF Explosives Response Squad -
34 2839 Main Street Engine 34 Ladder 7 -
35 1512 Clinton Street Engine 35 Ladder 15 -
36 860 Hertel Avenue Engine 36 Ladder 13, HazMat 1 HazMat Trailer
37 500 Rhode Island Street Engine 37 Ladder 4, CBRNE 4th Battalion Chief
38 398 Linden Avenue Engine 38 Reserve Engine 7th Battalion Chief

New Firehouses

Along with the capital improvement to the fleet of fire apparatus, the Buffalo Fire Department has replaced or is replacing older facilities. Most recent are the new quarters for Engine 31/Ladder 14 slightly north along Bailey Avenue from their former firehouse. The former firehouse has had multiple issues with plumbing, roofing, and poor HVAC systems. The firehouse was built in 1903 originally as a single company quarters. Also as of 07/15/2010,Engine 23's moved to their new firehouse at 3226 Bailey Avenue, site of a vacated McDonalds. The former quarters on Collingwood Avenue was too cramped for modern apparatus as well issues with the landlord who purchased the old Precinct 16/Engine 23 complex from the city during Masiello's administration had furthered the calls for a new two bay firehouse. All new firehouses are being built with extra bays for the storage of reserve apparatus or ambulances in the distant future per the MMA report released in the early 00's. Lastly, Engine 35 and Ladders 10 and 15 are being temporarily reassigned with Engines 25 and 4 respectively while the apparatus floor at Engine 35/ Ladder 15's quarters is replaced. The current floor is unable to bear the weight of a newer ladder truck at this time.

Former Firehouses

There are many former firehouses spread out through the city proper. Some met the wrecking ball years ago, others were converted to other uses, and some were just recently closed. Firehouses like Engine 17's quarters at Rhode Island and Chenango were torn down in the 1930s, only to have another firehouse built on the same plot 30 years later. Other firehouses like Engine 27 on Johnson Street were left to rot by the city, and ultimately was torn down in the mid-1990s to make room for low income housing. The Buffalo Fire Historical Society has some artifacts from Engine 27's house on display at their museum. Engine 21, Ladder 6's former quarters at Best Street and Earl Place was also torn down in the mid-1990s, and now is just an empty parcel. The only item still visible from the old firehouse is the driveway. Engine 5's former quarters on Emslie Street near Bristol Street is now a playground.

These are the last former firehouses still standing. It is with respect that they are listed here, as old yarns die hard. The oldest firehouse is the former Engine 2, Ladder 9 at Jersey and Plymouth. These quarters were constructed in 1872 in the days of the volunteer department. The former quarters of Engine 11 and Engine 2 are the last firehouses remaining from the volunteer fire department days. Engine 2's former quarters closed in 1999 when a new station was constructed at Elmwood and Virginia. It was occupied by Hogan Restoration for a few years but is now vacant. The former Engine 9, Ladder 1 served as a Training Bureau site for the Fire Department after Ladder 1 was closed in 1994. The Fire Department wanted to utilize the firehouse as home of Rescue 1 and Hazmat 1 but the former Masiello Administration sold the building to a private company. Chemical 5 and Engine 15 are the most interesting reuses of firehouses as personal residences.

Location Assigned Companies Year Closed Current Use
707 Washington Street Ladder 1,Engine 4, Engine 9, Squad 9, 2nd Battalion 1994 Printing Company (Leader All Surface Printing)
306 Jersey Street Engine 2, Ladder 9, Squad 11 1999 Private Owner - Hogan Restoration
1197 Niagara Street Engine 11, Ladder 4 1966 Rich's Outlet Bakery
176 Chicago Street Ladder 8, Engine 8 1978 Private Owner
131 Southside Parkway Ladder 10, Quad 6, Engine 30 1981 Apartments
166 Cleveland Avenue Chemical 5, Engine 37 1966 Private Residence
1420 Main Street Engine 16 1991 Offices (My Fellowship World)/Veterans Housing
275 Kehr Street Engine 33, 5th Battalion Chief 2006 Vacant
1665 Elmwood Avenue Engine 36 2005 Private Residence
395 Amherst Street Ladder 12 2005 Vacant
638 Fillmore Avenue Ladder 11, 3rd Battalion Chief 2003 Private Owner
64 Amherst Street Engine 15, Squad 7 1976 Private Residence
17 Whitfield Street Engine 30, Precinct 15 Complex 1960 Apartments
2025 Bailey Avenue Engine 31, Ladder 14 2009 Church headquarters
106 Collingwood Avenue Engine 23, Precinct 16 Complex 2010 Vacant

Disbanded BFD Units

Over the years these companies have either been closed due to consolidation of firematic districts, new technologies, budgetary reasons, or just impractical. In 1953, Engine 29, for example, was a specialized unit. Engine 29 operated a WWII DUKW amphibious surplus vehicle, quartered with Engine 10 on Ganson Street. It was intended to fight fires on the waterfront but proved impractical to use and was quickly phased out after a few years of service. Engine 29 was also the old fireboat George R. Potter from 1903 to 1931, which was decommissioned due to the age of the vessel. The same is true of Patrol 1, which was a converted shop truck that was utilized for battling brush fires, especially in the Iron Island area of Buffalo. This was in part due to the amount of railroad property tranversing the area which proved impassable for larger apparatus. Patrol 1 was manned by Engine 28, however this unit also was deemed "impractical" and was stricken only a few years after its inception in the 1960s. In the latter part of the 19th Century and early 20th Century the Buffalo Fire Department implemented the use of Chemical Companies. These pieces of apparatus used a specialized soda/foam mixture which was seen as the "better" way to fight fires. Buffalo had 6 Chemical companies up until the middle 1920's when they were all either disbanded or changed over to Engines. Chemical 5 on Cleveland Avenue was the only unit in the department's history to have motorcycles assigned to it. In 1944, the BFD ordered a dual purpose rig, Quad 6, with 1000GPM pump, hose, and a complement of ladders. It was manufactured by the Buffalo Fire Appliance Corporation. It was quartered with Ladder 10 at 131 Southside Parkway. It proved impractical to run due to its inability to make right turns. Quad 6 only was in service for about 6 years. In the 1950s the BFD had implemented the use of squad companies, which were rescue squads. These squad companies were quartered at firehouses across the city, 11 in total. The squad companies utilized the latest life-saving equipment at the time and the department even had their own surgeon who was there Medical Director. In the late 1970s, budgetary constraints made the squad companies easy prey for cuts. Where the BFD was ahead of the times and progressive in the realm of EMS, it had now become behind the curve. The first actual company to close occurred in 1931 when Engine 14, which was quartered at William Street and Casey Street (current site of Goodwill Industries). It was closed to consolidate with another Engine Company. In 1981, Engines 18 and 30 were closed due to budgetary constraints at that time. However, due to public outcry, both companies were reinstated with Engine 18 returning to its quarters on Fillmore Avenue, and Engine 30 being stationed with Engine 25, Ladder 10 and B-46 because of the deteriorated nature of their old quarters on Southside Pkwy. Sadly, both companies were closed for good in 1994 (Engine 30) and 2004 (Engine 18). The last company closed was Engine 24 quartered at Leroy Avenue and Halbert Street. Engine 24 provided 113 years of service to the City of Buffalo, and was closed in early 2006. Ladder 7 was moved from her quarters shared with Engine 24 to new quarters with Engine 34 at Main Street and Mercer Street. At the Citistat Buffalo meeting of 12/07/2007, the idea was brought up of a possible return of a company to the area of where Ladder 12 was quartered, due to increased response times in the North/Delaware Councilmatic districts.

Disbanded BFD Units
Engines Ladders Squads Misc Units Chiefs
Engine 5 Ladder 1 Squad 1 Rescue 2 1st Battalion
Engine 6 Ladder 3 Squad 2 Snorkel 1 2nd Battalion
Engine 7 Ladder 8 Squad 3 Chemical 1 5th Battalion
Engine 8 Ladder 9 Squad 4 Chemical 2 8th Battalion
Engine 9 Ladder 11 Squad 5 Chemical 3 9th Battalion
Engine 10 Ladder 12 Squad 6 Chemical 4 South Division
Engine 11 Ladder 16 Squad 7 Chemical 5 North Division
Engine 12 Squad 8 Chemical 6
Engine 13 Squad 9 Water Tower 1
Engine 14 Squad 10 Water Tower 2
Engine 15 Squad 11 Hose Tender 1
Engine 16 Hose Tender 2
Engine 17 Auxiliary 1
Engine 18 Auxiliary 2
Engine 24 Auxiliary 3
Engine 27 Auxiliary 4
Engine 29 Quad 6
Engine 30 Patrol 1

Lackawanna Fire Department Merger

For several years both City of Buffalo and City of Lackawanna officials have looked into the merging of the Lackawanna Fire Department into the Buffalo Fire Department. The City of Lackawanna is a small city on the southern border of the City of Buffalo which has seen its industrial and population base drop significantly in the last few decades. Whereas the City of Lackawanna used to rely on a steady stream of income from taxes paid by the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the shuddering of that plant in the 1980s and the entire closure in early 2009 of the last steel facility by Mittal Steel has left the City Of Lackawanna looking elsewhere for income revenue. Currently there are no plans at this time to merge the two fire departments. The last discussions were turned down by the MMA Consultant Report in 2005. It should be noted the Lackawanna Fire Department once consisted of some 120 firefighters but now consists of roughly 40 career firefighters quartered out of 3 firehouses in the City Of Lackawanna.

Station Address Assigned Companies
Lackawanna Fire Station #1 66 Ridge Road Engine 1 (L1),Reserve Ladder (L4)
Lackawanna Fire Station #2 1630 Abbott Road Ladder 6 (L6),Rescue 2 (R2),Chief (L5)
Lackawanna Fire Station #3 2994 South Park Avenue Engine 3 (L3),Reserve Engine (L11),Reserve Engine (L33)

Buffalo Fire Department & Erie County Emergency Services Units Radio Callsigns

The Buffalo Fire Department has many support units within itself. Below is a list of just some of the many different units that make up the BFD as well as outside agencies.

  • Commissioner of Fire (C-1)
  • Deputy Commissioner (B-51)
  • Deputy Commissioner (B-52)
  • Deputy Commissioner (B-53)
  • Operations Chief (B-55, or OC-55)
  • Division Chief (B-56)
  • Homeland Security Coordinator (HS-1)
  • Department Safety Chief (B-41)
  • Department Training Chief (B-42)
  • 3rd Battalion Chief (East) (B-43)
  • 4th Battalion Chief (West) (B-44)
  • 6th Battalion Chief (South) (B-46)
  • 7th Battalion Chief (North) (B-47)
  • HazMat Captain (F-16)
  • EMS Lieutenant (F-20)
  • Training Bureau (F-21,F-22,F-23)
  • Superintendent of Apparatus (F-48)
  • Superintendent of Fire Alarms (F-58)
  • Head Mechanic (F-49)
  • City Engineer (F-39)
  • Chief of Communications (F-61)
  • Chief of Fire Prevention (F-1)
  • Fire Prevention Inspectors (F-1x)
  • Department Chaplain (F-72,F-74,F-75)
  • Buffalo Fire Marshals Arson Investigation Bureau (F-10,F-11,F-12)
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms (F-13)
  • Professional Standards (F-14)
  • Mobile Air Unit Trucks (F-7,F-8,F-9)
  • Communications Division (F-82,F-84,F-86,F-87,F-88)
  • Department Photographer (F-89)
  • Canteen Truck (F-76)
  • Red Cross Coordinator (F-78)
  • Repair Shop (F-83,F-85)
  • Department Tow Truck (F-2)
  • Department Service Truck (F-3)
  • Hose Wagon (F-62)
  • Hose Wagon (F-63)
  • Fuel Tanker (F-65)
  • Utility No. 1 (CBRNE 1)
  • Utility No. 2 (CBRNE 2)
  • Utility No. 3 (CBRNE 3)
  • Utility No. 4 (CBRNE 4)
  • Utility No. 5 (CBRNE 5)
  • Mask Repair (F-4)
  • Erie County Emergency Services Commissioner (ES-1)
  • Erie County Emergency Services Chaplain (ES-11)
  • Erie County Emergency Services Deputy Chaplain (ES-12)
  • Erie County Emergency Services Deputy Chaplain (ES-13)
  • Erie County Emergency Services EMS Chief (ES-10)
  • Erie County Emergency Services Deputy EMS (ES-14)
  • Erie County Emergency Services ALS Coord. (MC-11)
  • Erie County Emergency Services Command Post (MOCC-1/2/3)
  • Erie County Deputy Commissioner of Fire Safety (FC-1)
  • Erie County Assistant Fire Coordinator (FC-3)
  • Erie County Deputy Commissioner of Emergency Management (EM-1)
  • Erie County SMART 1 (SMART 1)
  • Erie County SMART 2 (SMART 2)
  • Erie County SMART 3 (SMART 3)
  • Erie County Sheriff Helicopter (AIR 1)
    • F-72 & ES-11 are the same person, Father Joe Bayne. He uses the F-72 callsign when responding with the Buffalo Fire Department and the ES-11 callsign when responding with all other Erie County fire companies **

Buffalo Fire Alarms/Signals

The Buffalo Fire Department's Alarm Office is operated out of 332 Ellicott Street in Downtown Buffalo. The Alarm Office is staffed mostly by civilian dispatchers now, as the department has attempted to phase out uniformed firefighters in the alarm office. The Alarm Office is also home to the Communications Division and Radio Repair of the Buffalo Fire Department. These personnel are also civilians, who manage not just the communications for the fire department, but also the police, public works, ambulance dispatch, etc. The Buffalo Fire Department used to send alarms as the FDNY still does in box format. The gong would strike out the call box number. If it was a working fire or an additional alarm was requested, the gong would strike out the box number, and then a 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, or a 6-6 for a General Alarm. A General Alarm is all apparatus in the city, the recall of off duty platoons, and the implementation of mutual aid plans with suburban departments. The Larkin Warehouse Fire of the 1950s was the only General Alarm in the BFD's history. Today, the Buffalo Fire Department transmits alarms in tone form. Two short tones signify an EMS Call, three short tones signify a Still Alarm or Preliminary Signal. Three long tones signify an Alarm of Fire and four long tones signify a HazMat response. The Alarm Office is supposed to move into new offices at the new Public Safety Campus Building in Downtown Buffalo sometime in the near future.

General Calls:

Preliminary Signal: Automated alarm activation 2 Engines, 1 Ladder, Battalion Chief

Still Alarm: Investigations, Rubbish,Auto fire etc. 1 Engine and/or 1 Ladder

EMS Call: 1 Engine or 1 Ladder

Motor Vehicle Accident: 1 Engine, 1 Ladder

Thruway Assignment: MVA on Thruway or 198/33 Expressways 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, Rescue 1, Battalion Chief

School Bus Accident: 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, Battalion Chief, F-20, and S.M.A.R.T. (Upon request only)

Elevator Assignment: Alarm of elevator stuck with people trapped 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, Rescue 1, Battalion Chief

Collapse Assignment: Building/industrial accident 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, Rescue 1, Collapse Rescue, Battalion Chief, B-56 (Division Chief), and B-41 (Safety Chief)

Structure Fire (Alarm of Fire): 3 Engines, 3 Ladders, (1 Ladder acts as the FAST),Rescue 1, Battalion Chief, B-56 (Division Chief), F-20 (EMS Officer & Accountability), Mobile Air Unit (F-7, F-8, or F-9), and F-11 (Fire Marshal).

2nd Alarm or "Greater Alarm": 3 Engines, 2 Ladders, Battalion Chief, B-41 (Safety Chief), and Canteen Truck F-76. B-55 (Operations Chief), Deputy Commissioners, and Fire Commissioner are notified.

3rd Alarm: 3 Engines, 2 Ladders, and a Battalion Chief.

General Alarm: All active companies, Off Duty personnel, and reserve apparatus -Note, the only call in BFD history to go to a general alarm was the 1954 Larkin Building fire.

Level 1 HazMat Response: Engine 3, HazMat 1, Rescue 1, 1 Engine, 2 Ladders, Mobile Air Unit (F-7, F-8, or F-9), F-16 (HazMat Captain), B-41 (Safety Chief), Battalion Chief, F-20, Division Chief B-56.

Buffalo Fire Radio Channels

Channel 1: 424.225 (Fire Dispatch)
Channel 2: 424.350 (Fire Ground)
Channel 3: 423.900 (HazMat Low Portables)

Honor Roll of Fallen Buffalo Firefighters

Last Tour Assignment Name
12/23/1882 Ladder 3 FF. William Smith
03/25/1885 Engine 3 FF. George Roth
07/21/1887 Engine 6 Captain John Manning
02/02/1889 Engine 10 FF. Richard Marion
01/13/1890 Engine 6 FF. John Morrissey
07/20/1890 Ladder 4 Driver Daniel Shanahan
01/23/1891 Engine 4 Captain Adam Fisher
01/23/1891 Engine 4 FF. Robert Schneider
02/09/1891 Engine 7 Driver Charles Wilson
10/07/1893 Engine 9 Engineer Frank McMurray
10/15/1893 Engine 23 FF. Charles Harrison
01/12/1894 Engine 24 Driver Michael O'Brien
04/25/1894 Ladder 7 FF. Joseph Rittling
08/16/1896 Ladder 6 FF. John Clarke
10/30/1896 Engine 21 Driver William Dickman
01/08/1901 Engine 13 FF. William O' Donnell
11/01/1901 Engine 6 Lieutenant Henry Devitt
11/11/1901 Engine 6 Captain Martin Mahoney
05/08/1902 Engine 18 FF. John Kennell
12/27/1903 Engine 18 FF. Thomas Donlon
05/13/1903 Engine 21 Lieutenant William Clark
05/19/1905 Engine 6 Driver Robert Minnis
01/28/1907 Engine 8 FF. Stephen Meegan
01/28/1907 Engine 8 Lieutenant William Naughton
01/28/1907 Engine 4 FF. John Henky
01/19/1908 Chemical 5 FF. Daniel O' Connor
10/07/1908 Ladder 3 FF. Joseph Schellheimer
08/12/1909 Ladder 9 FF. Nathan Riley
03/11/1911 Engine 1 FF. William Clinton
07/06/1912 Engine 22 FF. Paul Siegert
09/18/1914 Engine 8 FF. James O' Brien
06/08/1915 Chemical 2 Driver Robert Robinson
12/19/1915 Engine 9 FF. Henry Wick
09/11/1917 Assistant Chief Driver Charles Kaiser
11/13/1917 Ladder 4 Captain Edward White
06/01/1918 Supply Barn Driver William Roland
01/08/1920 Ladder 2 FF. Martin Haley
04/15/1921 Engine 9 FF. Raymond Lawrence
02/01/1922 4th Battalion Chief Driver William Farrell
02/28/1922 Engine 5 Driver Elmer Cassidy
05/06/1922 Engine 19 Engineer William Jones
05/09/1923 8th Battalion Chief Battalion Chief Joseph Nirschel
08/07/1923 Engine 24 FF. Harrington Brand
09/14/1923 Engine 36 Captain William Kelly
08/12/1924 Engine 1 FF. Jacob Gall
10/08/1924 Engine 22 FF. Martin Hoelche
12/05/1925 Engine 27 FF. Michael Schmidt
12/06/1925 Engine 27 Captain Michael McCarthy
07/14/1926 Engine 10 FF. John Zahn
09/05/1926 Ladder 1 FF. George Carbine
01/03/1927 Engine 17 FF. Francis Wolfe
07/27/1927 Engine 20 Engineer Thomas Lynch
11/07/1928 Ladder 4 FF. James Byers
11/07/1928 Ladder 4 FF. Edward Thompson
03/21/1929 5th Battalion Chief Battalion Chief William Hill
08/06/1929 Ladder 11 FF. Edwin Hoffman
12/18/1929 Engine 2 FF. Raymond Zahm
02/09/1931 Engine 9 Lieutenant Francis Masterson
02/28/1931 Engine 20 Pilot William Richardson
12/11/1932 Engine 22 Captain George Weitz
12/11/1932 Engine 22 FF. Rudolph Bethge
01/24/1934 Squad 2 Captain George Amos
08/31/1934 Telegraph Lineman William Sheehan
12/21/1934 1st Battalion Chief FF. Edward Hanavan
08/28/1935 Squad 1 FF. Matthew Merzig
06/29/1936 Ladder 12 Captain Thomas Sullivan
02/08/1937 Headquarters Commissioner John Crotty
05/04/1937 1st Battalion Chief Battalion Chief Walter Mahoney
08/02/1939 Engine 36 FF. George Mularky
03/20/1940 Engine 36 FF. James Hennessy
02/17/1943 Engine 37 FF. George Lyons
04/11/1944 Engine 9 FF. Edward Hawkes
12/09/1944 Ladder 15 FF. Michael Sheehan
06/16/1949 Engine 32 FF. Roy Dodge
05/15/1950 Ladder 4 FF. Charles Mooney
01/11/1952 Engine 2 FF. Fred McClellan
10/18/1952 Engine 34 FF. George Moriarity
12/23/1952 Engine 34 Captain William Quinn
04/05/1956 2nd Battalion Chief Battalion Chief James Curtin
01/06/1957 North Division Chief Division Chief William Boland
11/05/1960 Engine 30 FF. Harry Smith
01/01/1961 Engine 27 FF. Vincent Morana
01/27/1961 High Pressure Company FF. Edward Mulligan
05/06/1963 Ladder 6 FF. Frederick Hochhauser
09/12/1967 7th Battalion Chief Battalion Chief Eugene Bowers
09/30/1967 Engine 34 Lieutenant Leonard Wood
01/03/1968 Ladder 4 FF. Robert Brunner
03/22/1970 Engine 15 Lieutenant Thomas Yeates
07/25/1972 Ladder 10 FF. John Maloney
11/08/1972 Engine 21 Lieutenant Henry Hoffman
03/08/1974 Engine 13 FF. Francise Fitzgerald
01/07/1975 Engine 9 Lieutenant Burton Winspear
07/21/1976 Service Station FF. Zigmund Klemowski
09/09/1976 Engine 34 FF. Daniel Wisniewski
04/05/1978 Ladder 9 FF. William Keane
09/26/1983 Engine 26 Lieutenant Edmund Chrosniak
12/27/1983 Ladder 5 FF. Michael Austin
12/27/1983 Ladder 5 FF. Michael Catanzaro
12/27/1983 Ladder 5 FF. Matthew Colpoys
12/27/1983 Ladder 5 FF. James Lickfield
12/27/1983 Ladder 5 FF. Anthony Waskielewicz
07/14/1984 Ladder 9 FF. Francis Hanavan
04/13/1985 Engine 3 FF. C. Clifford Preisigke
07/29/1985 Ladder 9 FF. Raymond Whalen
12/23/1986 Engine 24 Captain Edward Duggan
02/02/1988 Engine 24 Lieutenant Michael Gerrie
01/28/1991 Ladder 15 Captain Brian Dillon
07/04/1997 Engine 33 FF. Michael Sequin
04/04/2005 Engine 21 FF. Christopher Dill
06/30/2005 Ladder 2 Lieutenant William Lewis
02/21/2006 Rescue 1 FF. Donald Herbert
08/24/2009 Rescue 1 Lieutenant Charles "Chip" McCarthy
08/24/2009 Ladder 7 FF. Jonathan "Sim" Croom


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