BUFFALO, NY (Erie County Fire Blotter) – It appears that an unwritten tradition in the Buffalo Fire Department was somewhat broken when eight new fire trucks were dedicated on September 11th.
On those new trucks are vinyl graphics depicting a 9/11 “We Remember” sticker and the Seal of Buffalo with Mayor Byron W. Brown’s name below it.
In the past days, posts on the Facebook page of the Buffalo Professional Firefighter’s Local 282 is calling foul – specifically to Mayor Brown’s name being displayed on the new Buffalo Fire Department apparatus.
Local 282 which represents 680 uniformed firefighters in the City of Buffalo is upset that Brown’s name is on the new fire apparatus. The Union contends that is has been tradition that only names of firefighters who died in the line of duty would be placed on fire apparatus. The Union told members that if they were upset about Mayor Brown’s name on the new rigs, they should call the Mayor’s Complaint line.
Thomas Barrett, Vice President for Local 282 tells Erie County Fire Blotter that to the best of his knowledge, never in his 19-years as a Buffalo firefighter has a government official’s name been placed a piece of fire apparatus – only those who died in the Line of Duty.
He cites the examples of five deceased members of Ladder 5 who were killed when a propane tank exploded in December, 1983 and Rescue 1’s Donald Herbert who died in April, 2005 from injuries he suffered after a burning roof collapsed on him in December, 1995.
“It was an honor bestowed to them because they sacrificed their life for the citizens of Buffalo and that’s why their names were put on the rig,” said Barrett.
“We just feel that it’s in bad taste to have the Mayor’s name on the fire trucks. It may be his right, but it has never been done before and it’s usually an honor bestowed on somebody who has given their life for the City of Buffalo.”
In just hours after hearing the concerns of residents last night the Mayor made a decision in the matter.
“Last night the Mayor made the decision that if it’s a concern to some folks, we’re going to remove part of the decal and create a new one,” said Michael J. DeGeorge, spokesperson for the City of Buffalo.
The City Seal and the Mayor’s name will be removed from the new decal. A new design was ordered this morning.
DeGeorge also made mention that other public safety vehicles such as the police command bus does have the City Seal and the Mayor’s name on it. He also told us that the design on the new trucks had the approval of the Buffalo Fire Commissioner and the Department of Public Works.
To get a feel on how other municipalities would handle such an issue, we reached out to the City of Albany and City of New York Fire Departments.
“There are NO officials (nor plaques, names, etc.) listed on any fire apparatus,” a City of New York Fire Department Press Official told Erie County Fire Blotter via e-mail.
“Since 9/11/01, many units have the names of the members, from that unit, which were lost on the side (both sides of the cab or front) of the rig.”
Companies in New York City are allowed to place their company logo or motto somewhere on the truck.
A fire chief with the City of Albany Fire Department tells us that currently no names are listed on their department’s fire apparatus, but if the Mayor should want his or her name listed on the rigs, they need to oblige.
A timetable as to when the changeover will be complete was unknown, but the new graphic design should be ready sometime this afternoon.