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'Desperate': Buffalo Fire Department looks to buy 26 year-old truck

Truck four, from the Buffalo Fire Department's current fleet

The Buffalo Common Council approved funds for the Buffalo Fire Department to purchase a used aerial ladder to add to its fleet Tuesday.

But the truck the department is looking to buy is 26 years old.

Made in 1997, the vehicle is older than some of the department’s 700-plus members.

To put the age of the vehicle into context, that same year Men in Black was the highest grossing movie in the U.S., and season four of "Friends" premiered on TV. Elton John’s "Candle in the Wind" was Billboard’s top hot song after the death of Princess Diana in August of that year.

The National Fire Protection Association's guidelines state that first line and reserve fire apparatus should be no more than 15 years old. This truck is 11 years over that age limit.

The impending purchase is the latest attempt to ensure that the fire department is prepared for winter in light of equipment failures firefighters experienced during the December blizzard.

Fire Commissioner William Renaldo submitted a request to the council for $200,000 to buy the used truck, and the council approved $175,000 based on the pricing of the vehicle.

Speaking at the Finance Committee meeting Tuesday, Niagara District Councilman David Rivera said, “As winter approaches, [the council] wants to make sure the city has the equipment at their disposal to use.”

But for Buffalo Professional Firefighter’s Local 282 President, Vincent Ventresca, it shows just how much apparatus is needed.

“They’ve ignored the front-line apparatus for years. In five years, this commissioner has proactively ordered zero frontline engines and trucks…when you’re this desperate for the proper equipment, any purchase is better than nothing,” Ventresca said.

WBFO reached out to Commissioner Renaldo’s spokesperson for comment and has yet to receive a response. But in an email from June, a city spokesperson listed seven pieces of equipment — including one new engine and one new aerial ladder — that had either already been delivered, or are due to be delivered to the fire department in October.

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