Buffalo Fire Department

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Buffalo Fire Department (BFD)
"Ut Vivant Alii"
Operational Area
Country United States
State  New York
City Buffalo
Agency Overview
Established June 1, 1880
Annual calls ~35,000
Employees 766
Staffing Career
Fire chief Garnell W. Whitfield Jr.
Facilities & Equipment
Divisions 1
Battalions 4
Stations 20
Engines 19
Ladders 9
Rescues 1
Fireboats 1
EMS Level BLS First Responder
Airport crash 2
Department website
IAFF Local 282

The Buffalo Fire Department (BFD) provides fire protection and first responder emergency medical services to the city of Buffalo, New York, United States. The Buffalo Fire Department currently serves a population of over 260,000 people in a geographic area of approximately 42 square miles (110 km2).[1]

The Buffalo Fire 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 currently responds to over 35,000 emergency calls annually.


The Buffalo Fire Department had its origins in 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 city. As the demand for fire protection increased with the increase of population, the department was converted to a paid career department on July 1, 1880. The Buffalo Fire Department has a high number of ethnic groups among its ranks. This continues today with a large presence of African-Americans, German-Americans, Irish-American, Italian-American, and Polish-American firefighters in the department.

The Buffalo Fire Department companies totaled at one time 35 Engine Companies,16 ladder companies, a Snorkel Unit, 2 Hose Tenders, 11 first aid squads ( operated by engine company they were with) and three fireboats ( Engines 20,23 & 29). It also consisted of 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 beginning of downsizing the fire department began in the 1950s. In 1978, all eleven Squad companies were disbanded. Squad companies were two man light utility style vehicles that would response to medical calls and other technical rescue incidents. Rescue Company 1 was established in 1978 when the BFD saw the need for a specialized Rescue company. Rescue 1 responded to a large first alarm response area and to all second alarms in the remainder of the city.

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 remainder of the city. Rescue 2 was phased out and closed July 1, 1994 due to budget restrictions.

The closure of numerous front-line companies as well as eliminating Chief's Aids, disbanding 1st, 2nd,& 5th Battalion, etc.; continued until 2006 with the closing of Engine 24 on Leroy Street and the re-positioning of several firehouses to more strategic locations, as per the MMA study conducted in the 1990s.

The Buffalo Fire Department, like many other older cities, had street call boxes. At one time the city had a network of over 2,000 call boxes tied into the Alarm Office. The Fire Department Communications Division still maintains a smaller network of street boxes across the city. There is one located on every firehouse. Any Manual Boxes that remained in institutions were converted into electronic boxes which reset themselves.

Until 1981, the Buffalo Fire Department also included the Buffalo Niagara International Airport crash-fire-rescue unit, designated Engine 7. Engine 7 consisted of multiple pieces of apparatus,not just one like a standard fire company. 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 career fire department, however they have been called into the city several times in the past for chemical/industrial fires due to the nature of CFR apparatus.

At one time, the city had its own volunteer auxiliary corps, known as the Buffalo Auxiliary Fire Corps. The Corps operated four pumpers and acted under the direction of an Auxiliary Chief (CD-9). They responded on 3rd Alarm Fires and greater,assisting with such tasks as stretching hose lines, brand patrol and picking up hose lines. They were a welcome sight back in the 1960s and 1970s when the BFD responded to almost 100 Multiple alarms a year. They were invaluable in the bitterness of Buffalo's winters, where they would pack frozen hose onto the hose truck. It traced its roots to the World War II era and Civil Defense hype of the 1950s and 1960s but has since been disbanded. The decision to let the "C.D.'s " disband was made by the senior members of the Corps who decided to support Local 282 members who battled the city with firehouse closings and at times, the uncertainty of lay-offs. The Corps fell under the direction of the Erie County Emergency Services Department of Fire Safety until the early 1990s when the City of Buffalo took control over them. The city received Federal funding for the Auxiliaries until their disbanding. Some former auxiliary members still operate the Canteen Truck (F-76), which had been quartered at Fire Headquarters and is called in on all 2nd Alarms and greater to provide replenishment of fluids and snacks 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 1983 Buffalo propane explosion, 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 other citizens; and injured dozens more. 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 2023 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 gone to the aid of its Canadian neighbors on several occasions, being one of the few department's to have an international mutual aid request. 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, 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 20, 2004, BFD urgently responded to the Welland Canal after Port Colborne Fire Services had put out a mutual aid request for a difficult industrial accident with entrapment. Initially Toronto Fire's HUSAR Unit was requested, but when Port Colborne was given an ETA of 3 hours the call to Buffalo was made. Within 45 minutes of the initial call, Rescue 1, B-41 (Safety Officer), and various members of BFD's Technical Rescue Team were on location to extricate a welder from a ship that was being dismantled.

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 future will see firehouses constructed to replace older, inefficient stations as well as renovations to existing firehouses throughout the city.

Lackawanna Fire Department Merger[edit]

City of Buffalo and City of Lackawanna officials have looked into the merging of the Lackawanna Fire Department with the Buffalo Fire Department in years past. The City of Lackawanna is a small city on the southern border of Buffalo which has seen its industrial and population base drop in the last few decades. Whereas the City of Lackawanna used to rely on income from taxes paid by the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the closure and shuddering of that plant and its operations in the 1980s and the closure in early 2009 of the last steel facility by Mittal Steel, left the City Of Lackawanna looking elsewhere for income revenue.

There are however no plans to merge the two fire departments at this time. 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 three firehouses in the City Of Lackawanna.

Station Address Assigned Companies
Lackawanna Fire Station #1 66 Ridge Road Engine 1 (L1),Reserve Ladder (L4), Reserve Engine (L22)
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)


A building partially collapses on Jersey and Richmond Avenues. in Buffalo, New York. According to the Buffalo Fire Department, the number four side of an old horse stable 428 Jersey Street off Richmond Avenue, collapsed from the roof line halfway down the side and into the yards of at least three houses surrounding the building. Some of the bricks landed inside the building, while some fell into the yards of some houses behind homes on Richmond, leaving a 'V' shape.

The Buffalo Fire Department consists of one firefighting division which is separated into four battalions, and further separated into four platoons. Each platoon of firefighters works two day shifts which are from 0800–1700 hours followed by two night shifts which are from 1700–0800 hours.


The Buffalo Fire Department currently has 766 filled positions within the department, including 727 uniformed and 39 non-uniformed personnel.

Administration/Headquarters Personnel[edit]

  • 1 Fire Commissioner
  • 3 Deputy Fire Commissioners
  • 1 Deputy Chief of Special Operations
  • 1 Planning Lieutenant
  • 1 Safety Battalion Chief
  • 2 Payroll Staff
  • 2 Clerical Staff Members
  • 1 Supply Superintendent

Fire Prevention Bureau Personnel[edit]

  • 1 Fire Prevention Battalion Chief
  • 1 Fire Prevention Captain
  • 3 Fire Prevention Lieutenants
  • 1 Clerical Support Member

Fire Alarm Officer Personnel[edit]

  • 1 Communications Captain
  • 3 Dispatchers
  • 3 Assistant Dispatchers
  • 9 Civilian Dispatchers
  • 5 Communications Technicians/Specialists
  • 1 Fire Alarm Superintendent
  • 1 Radio Supervisor
  • 1 Communications Supervisor
  • 1 Communications Engineer
  • 1 Systems Support Analyst

Training Personnel[edit]

  • 1 Training Department Chief
  • 1 Training Captain
  • 2 Training Lieutenants
  • 1 Clerical Support Member

Hazardous Materials Personnel[edit]

  • 1 Haz-Mat. Captain
  • 1 Haz-Mat. Firefighter

Fire Investigation/Arson Personnel[edit]

  • 1 Fire Investigation/Arson Lieutenant
  • 8 Fire Marshals

Emergency Medical Services Personnel[edit]

  • 4 EMS Lieutenants

Fire Apparatus Repair Shop Personnel[edit]

  • 1 Maintenance Supervisor
  • 6 Mechanics
  • 1 Laborer
  • 1 Sign Painter
  • 1 Carpenter
  • 1 Supplies Stock Clerk

Mask Services/Tool Repair/Hose Tower Personnel[edit]

  • 3 Firefighters

Service Station Personnel[edit]

  • 4 Lieutenants
  • 12 Firefighters


The Buffalo Fire Department currently operates out of 20 Fire Stations, and operates a fire apparatus fleet of 19 Engine Companies, 9 Ladder Companies, 1 Rescue Company, 1 Collapse/Technical Rescue Unit, 1 Haz-Mat. Unit, 1 Field Communications Unit, 1 Foam Unit, and 1 Fireboat, as well as numerous other special, support, and reserve units. The Buffalo Fire Department's fire suppression units are organized into 4 Battalions, each commanded by a Battalion Chief per shift, who in turn reports to an on-duty Division Chief.

Call Volume and Type[edit]

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 activation, 1,483 confirmed working fires, and 23,543 EMS calls. The call volume has increased steadily since.

Buffalo on average battles a structure fire 2−3 times 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 arsonists and firebugs. The city has begun a process to demolish the over 10,000 vacant structures. The city in conjunction with several city departments has begun marking vacant structures with a uniform system. Any structure marked with a red square (city inspector) or yellow square (fire dept) means an interior attack, if needed, is safe to enter. However structures marked with a square of either color with an X in the middle mean that the structure is unsafe and an interior attack is ill advised and only an exterior attack is warranted. A corresponding letter next to the box notifies companies of hazards ( i.e.: C= Chimney, R=Roof etc.)


Emergency Medical Services(EMS) calls are the most frequent calls the BFD respond to. In its current capacity, the Buffalo Fire Department acts as a first response only even though all firefighters are trained NYS-EMTs. 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. There are a handful of Buffalo firefighters that are Advanced EMTs (AEMT) 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 Buffalo Fire Department does not transport patients to hospitals. This is done by Rural Metro Medical Services, a for profit commercial service which is contracted with the City of Buffalo. Ambulances are dispatched by ADI (Ambulance Dispatch & Inspection),which is the Emergency Medical Services Division of Erie County Emergency Services. In recent years, there has been an increase in wait times for arriving ambulances for EMS calls due to closures of multiple area hospitals, overcrowding in the current ER's, civilians who misuse the 911 system, as well as manpower issues within the commercial service,etc.; It has been the subject of multiple media reports within the local press, and the phrase "No Ambulance Available" has become commonplace when BFD are dispatched.

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 had been looking into providing their own ambulance service as well as implementing a revamped Squad company which would have been an ALS (Advanced Life Support) flycar to assist the commercial ambulance service at peak times, but so far those talks have only been preliminary.

Special Operations[edit]


Hazardous Materials(Haz-Mat.) 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. Engine 36 & Ladder 13 provide additional Haz Mat manpower. 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. In addition, Engine 1,32,37,34 and Ladders 2,5,4 & 7 are trained as Chemical Protective Clothing Companies that respond to hospitals and large populous locations for immediate gross decon of civilians.

Arson Investigation Unit[edit]

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 determine if it was accidental or an arson was committed. They were quartered out of Engine 20 (Fireboat) on Ohio Street but have moved into the old Painters Union Hall located on Elmwood Ave. next to Engine 2's quarters at Elmwood and Virginia.


Apparatus Profile (2013)[edit]

  • 19 Engines (E1, E2, E3, E4, E19, E21, E22, E23, E25, E26, E28, E31, E32, E33, E34, E35, E36, E37, E38)
  • 9 Ladders (L2, L4, L5, L6, L7, L10, L13, L14, L15)
  • 1 Rescue (R1)
  • 5 Battalions (B41, B43, B44, B46, B47)
  • 2 Division (B55, B56)
  • 1 EMS Lieutenant (F20)
  • 1 Mobile Air/Light Unit (F8)
  • 1 Mobile Command Unit (Unmanned)
  • 1 Collapse/Technical Rescue Unit (Cross-Staffed by E-21, T6 & R1)
  • 1 Haz-Mat. Unit (Cross-Staffed by Engine 3)
  • 1 Fireboat (E20)
  • 1 Rehabilitation unit (E1)
  • 3 CBRNE Units *
  • 1 Arson Investigation Unit (F11)
  • 2 Haz-Mat./CBRNE/Decon. Support Trailers
  • 1 Shop Van
  • 1 EMS Support Trailer (Used for Special Events)
  • 1 Foam Unit (Cross-Staffed by Engine 33)

(*) CBRNE. Units are pickup trucks used for spare staff rigs, manpower units at events and to pull Decon. and Medical trailers. The Buffalo Fire Department has completed a multi-million dollar replacement of the entire fleet of fire apparatus. All companies, with the exception of Engine companies 4 and 25, and Ladder companies 13, and 15, have all received American LaFrance Eagle apparatus with Engines 22 and 33 receiving the last two pumpers, and Ladder 4 receiving the last platform. Engines 4, 25, and Ladder 13 ; have all received Crimson Fire Apparatus, and Ladder 15 received Ladder 13's 2009 Crimson 103 foot rearmount demonstrator. Along with Ladder 4's new truck, a Field Communications Unit purchased from was placed into service. A new CBRNE explosives detection vehicle also paid for by Homeland Security funds. As well, All Chiefs and the EMS Lieutenant will receive new Chevrolet Suburban vehicles. Those vehicles will be cycled in FY'13 for new Chief vehicles along with a new Collapse Rescue rig.

The department also received 5 utility pickups, two Haz-Mat. trailers, one EMS Support Trailer, as well as new thermal cameras, bunker gear, etc. Former Fire Commissioner Michael Lombardo had utilized grant writing unlike previous administrations.

Buffalo Fire operates 19 Engine Companies, 9 Ladder Companies, 1 Heavy Rescue, 1 Collapse/Technical Rescue, 1 Haz-Mat Unit and 1 Fireboat. In addition, a fleet of 5 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.

Fire Station Locations and Apparatus[edit]

Below is a complete listing of all Fire Station Locations and current active fire companies/units in the city of Buffalo according to Battalion.[2]

Engine Company Ladder Company Special Unit Chief Battalion Address
Engine 1 Ladder 2 Decon. 1, Rehab. 1 4 132 Ellicott St.
Engine 2 Mobile Communications Unit, F10, F11, F12 B56 4 376 Virginia St.
Engine 3 Haz-Mat. 1 B43 3 609 Broadway
Engine 4 Reserve Engine, Reserve Engine 6 939 Abbott Rd.
Engine 19 4 209 Forest Ave.
Engine 20 (Fireboat) N/A 155 Ohio St.
Engine 21 Ladder 6 Rescue 1, Collapse/Technical Rescue 1 3 1229 Jefferson Ave.
Engine 22 3 1528 Broadway
Engine 23 7 3226 Bailey Ave.
Engine 25 Ladder 10 B46 6 517 Southside Pkwy.
Engine 26 7 703 Tonawanda St.
Engine 28 6 1174 E. Lovejoy St.
Engine 31 Ladder 14 3 2025 Bailey Ave.
Engine 32 Ladder 5 6 700 Seneca St.
Engine 33 ATF Explosives Response Squad 1, C.B.R.N.E. Unit 3 3 1720 Fillmore Ave.
Engine 34 Ladder 7 7 2839 Main St.
Engine 35 Ladder 15 6 1512 Clinton St.
Engine 36 Ladder 13 Haz-Mat. Trailer 1 7 860 Hertel Ave.
Engine 37 Ladder 4 C.B.R.N.E. Unit 1, Haz-Mat. Trailer 2 B44 4 500 Rhode Island St.
Engine 38 B47 7 398 Linden Ave.

Other Facilities[edit]

The Fire Department still uses some of its closed firehouses scattered throughout the city limits. Former Engine 18 (Annex 18) on Fillmore Avenue is used by the Training Bureau as an offsite location. Former Engine 10 (Annex 10) on Ganson Street is used as a HazMat office, as a well as a Haz Mat Training site. Former 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 Technical rescue wood products and the spare Rescue rig.[3]

Buffalo Fire Headquarters and the Repair Shop is located at 195 Court St. and is home to F-7, F-8, F-9, F-76, Misc. Units, and the EMS Lieutenant, F-20. Buffalo Fire Dispatch/Communications Division is located 332 Ellicott St. and is also home to the Radio Repair Unit. The Buffalo Fire Training Bureau, Fire Academy, and the Training Tower is located at 3359 Broadway St.


The Buffalo Fire Department also operates 3 Fire Station Annexes to store additional fire apparatus or units that are not frontline. The annexes are retired Fire Stations and are considered department storage facilities.

  • Annex 10 - 315 Ganson St.
  • Haz Mat Offices
  • Annex 18 - 1030 Fillmore Ave.
    • Training Bureau Offices
  • Annex 24 - 108 Leroy Ave.
    • Shop Van
    • Reserve Rescue (F9)

New Firehouses[edit]

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 issues with plumbing, roofing, and poor HVAC systems. The firehouse was built in 1903 as a single company quarters. As of 15 July 2010 Engine 23 has moved to a 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 built with extra bays for the storage of reserve apparatus or ambulances in the distant future per the MMA report released in the early 2000s. The apparatus floor at the quarters which house Engine 35 and Ladder 15 has been repaired in order for Ladder 15 to be upgraded with a new vehicle.

Former Firehouses[edit]

There are many former firehouses spread throughout the city proper. Many met the wrecking ball years ago, others were converted for residential/commercial/private use and some just recently closed.

Firehouses like former Engine 17's quarters at Rhode Island and Chenango was torn down in the 1930s, only to have another firehouse built on the same plot 30 years later. Firehouses like former Engine 27 on Johnson Street was left open and exposed to the elements and thieves by the city government. It was torn down in the mid-1990s to make room for low income housing. The Buffalo Fire Historical Society was fortunate enough to have in possession some artifacts from that house on display at their museum. Engine 21, Ladder 6's former quarters at Best Street and Earl Place was 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 and it is with great 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 use the firehouse as the home of Rescue 1 and HazMat 1 but the former Masiello Administration sold the building to a private company. Chemical 5, Engines 15 and 36 and Hook & Ladder No. 12 are the most interesting reuses as personal residences.

Location Assigned Companies Year closed Current use
106 Collingwood Ave. Engine 23, Precinct 16 Complex 2010 Vacant
2025 Bailey Ave. Engine 31, Ladder 14 2009 Church/Halfway House Resource Center
275 Kehr St. Engine 33, 5th Battalion Chief 2006 True Bethel Baptist Church Help Center
1655 Elmwood Ave. Engine 36 2005 Private Residence
395 Amherst St. Ladder 12 2005 Private Residence
638 Fillmore Ave. Ladder 11, 3rd Battalion Chief 2003 Private Owner
306 Jersey St. Engine 2, Ladder 9, Squad 11 1999 Private Owner - Ted Constantine
707 Washington St. Engine 4, Engine 9, Ladder 1, Squad 9, 2nd Battalion 1994 Printing Company (Leader All Surface Printing)
1420 Main St. Engine 16 1991 Offices:My Fellowship World/Veterans Housing
131 Southside Pkwy. Engine 30, Ladder 10, Quad 6 1981 Apartments
176 Chicago St. Engine 8, Ladder 8 1978 Private Owner
64 Amherst St. Engine 15, Squad 7 1976 Private Residence
1197 Niagara St. Engine 11, Ladder 4 1966 Rich's Outlet Bakery
166 Cleveland Ave. Engine 37, Chemical 5 1966 Private Residence
17 Whitfield St. Engine 30, Precinct 15 Complex 1960 Apartments

Closed/Disbanded Fire Companies[edit]

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, the Fire Department has disbanded six engine companies (10,13,16,18,24 and 30), four ladder companies (1,9,11 and 12), and a heavy rescue company (2).

Over the years these companies have either been closed due to consolidation of fire districts, new technologies, or for 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 phased out after a few years of service.

Engine 23 was the fireboat George R. Potter from 1903 to 1931, which was decommissioned due to the age of the vessel.

Patrol 1 was a converted shop truck that was used for battling brush fires, especially in the Iron Island area of Buffalo. This was in part due to the amount of railroad property traversing 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 1920s when they were all either disbanded or changed over to Engines. Chemical 5 on Cleveland Avenue was also 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 was in service for about six years.

In the 1950s the BFD had implemented the use of squad companies, which were first aid responding units. These squad companies were quartered at firehouses across the city, 11 in total. The department had their own surgeon who was their Medical Director.

The first company to close was 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. This was the same year that Ladder 14 was opened at Engine 31's quarters.

In 1981, Engines 18 and 30 were closed due to budgetary constraints. 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 at 131 Southside Pkwy. Both companies have since been shuttered, in 1994 Engine 30 and 2002 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 its quarters shared with Engine 24 to new quarters with Engine 34 at Main Street and Mercer Street. At the Citistat Buffalo meeting of 12 July 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.That idea never developed.

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


Radio Operations[edit]

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, as the department has attempted to phase out uniformed firefighters in the alarm office. The Alarm Office is home to the Communications Division and Radio Repair of the Buffalo Fire Department. These personnel are 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 Building 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.

Response Guidelines[edit]

Fire Response[edit]

  • Preliminary Signal Assignment(Automated Fire Alarm Activation): 2 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Battalion Chief
  • Still Alarm Assignment(Investigations, Rubbish Fires, Auto Fires): 1 Engine or 1 Engine, 1 Ladder
  • Box(1st) Alarm Assignment(Alarm of Fire/Structure Fire): 3 Engines, 3 Ladders(1 for F.A.S.T.), Rescue 1, 1 Battalion Chief, Division Chief(B-56), EMS Officer(F-20)(Accountability), 1 Mobile Air Unit(F-7, F-8, or F-9), Fire Marshal(F-11)
  • 2nd/Greater Alarm Assignment(Upgrade): 3 Engines, 2 Ladders, 1 Battalion Chief, Operations Chief(B-55), Safety Chief(B-41), Canteen Unit(F-76), Deputy Commissioners and Fire Commissioner are notified.
  • 3rd Alarm Assignment(Upgrade): 3 Engines, 2 Ladders, 1 Battalion Chief
  • 4th Alarm Assignment(Upgrade): 3 Engines, 1 Ladder
  • Recall of off Duty Personnel at the request of the Division Chief, but confirmed by the Commissioner or the Duty Deputy.

Motor Vehicle Accident(MVA) Response[edit]

  • Motor Vehicle Accident(MVA) Assignment: 1 Engine, 1 Ladder
  • Motor Vehicle Accident(MVA) on Thurway or 198/33 Expressways Assignment: 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, Rescue 1, 1 Battalion Chief (For responses along Route 5, either Engine 1, Ladder 2 or Engine 4, Ladder 10 typically respond)
  • Motor Vehicle Accident(MVA) involving a School Bus Assignment: 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, 1 Battalion Chief, F-20, S.M.A.R.T.(Upon request only)

Special Incident/EMS Response[edit]

  • EMS Assignment: 1 Engine or 1 Ladder ( Ir closest Engine is out)
  • Stuck Elevator Assignment: 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, Rescue 1, 1 Battalion Chief
  • Collapse Assignment(Building/Industrial Accident/Collapse): 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, Rescue 1, 1 Battalion Chief, Division Chief(B-56), Collapse/Technical Rescue Unit ( with E21/L6, Safety Chief(B-41))
  • Level 1 Haz-Mat. Response Assignment: 1st due Engine, 1st due Ladder, Rescue 1, 1 Battalion Chief, Division Chief(B-56), Haz-Mat. Team(Engine 3, 36, Ladder 13, Haz-Mat. 1), Safety Chief(B-41), EMS Officer(F-20)(Accountability), Haz-Mat. Captain(F-16), 1 Mobile Air Unit(F-7, F-8, or F-9)
  • Second Alarm Hazmat: 3 Engines, 4 Ladders (1 as F.A.S.T), 1 Battalion Chief, B-55 (Operations Chief),and F-76
*All other upgrades follow structure fire responses.

Buffalo Fire Radio Channels[edit]

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

Buffalo Fire Department Radio Callsigns[edit]

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

Callsign Unit
B41 Safety Chief
B42 Training Chief
B43 3rd Battalion Chief (East)
B44 4th Battalion Chief (West)
B46 6th Battalion Chief (South)
B47 7th Battalion Chief (North)
B51 Deputy Commissioner of Administration
B52 Deputy Commissioner of Operations
B53 Deputy Commissioner of EMS
B55 Special Services Chief
B56 Division Chief
C1 Fire Commissioner
CBRNE1 Utility Unit 1
CBRNE2 Utility Unit 2
CBRNE3 Foam Unit 33
CBRNE4 Utility Unit 4
CBRNE5 Utility Unit 5
F1 Fire Prevention Chief
F2 Tow Truck
F3 Service Unit
F4 Mask Repair Unit
F7 Mobile Air Unit
F8 Mobile Air Unit
F9 Mobile Air Unit
F10 Fire Marshal/Arson Investigation Unit
F11 Fire Marshal/Arson Investigation Unit
F12 Fire Marshal/Arson Investigation Unit
F13 A.T.F. Unit
F14 Professional Standards Unit
F15 District Attorney
F16 Haz-Mat. Captain
F17 Safety Officer
F18 Inspector
F19 EMS Lieutenant
F20 EMS Lieutenant
F21 Training Unit
F22 Training Unit
F23 Training Unit
F24 Training Unit
F39 City Engineer
F48 Apparatus Superintendent
F49 Head Mechanic
F57 On-Call Physician/Surgeon
F58 Fire Alarm Superintendent
F59 Training Chief
F61 Communications Chief
F62 Hose Wagon
F63 Hose Wagon
F65 Fuel Tanker Truck
F67 Lighting Unit
F72 Chaplain
F73 Chaplain
F74 Chaplain
F75 Chaplain
F76 Salvation Army Canteen Unit
F78 Red Cross Coordinator
F81 Chaplain
F82 Communications Unit
F83 Repair Shop Unit
F84 Radio Repair Unit
F85 Tire Repair Unit
F86 Communications Unit
F87 Communications Unit
F88 Communications Unit
F89 Photographer
HS1 Homeland Security Coordinator

Erie County Emergency Services Units Radio Callsigns[edit]

  • 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 Fire Safety (FC-1)
  • Erie County Assistant Fire Coordinator (FC-3)
  • Erie County Deputy Commissioner 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)

Run Statistics[edit]

Top 10 Engines for 2013:

Company Runs
Engine 2 3,282
Engine 37 3,214
Engine 23 2,816
Engine 21 2,621
Engine 33 2,508
Engine 31 2,475
Engine 1 2,392
Engine 34 2,327
Engine 26 2,088
Engine 19 2,076

Top 5 Ladders for 2013:

Company Runs
Ladder 4 1,661
Ladder 7 1,638
Ladder 6 1,602
Ladder 13 1,561
Ladder 2 1,500

Fallen Buffalo firefighters[edit]

Below is a list of all line of duty deaths (LODDs) in the history of the Buffalo Fire Department.

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

See also[edit]


External links[edit]