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Buffalo Fire boosts its ranks to largest in years

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Mike Desmond
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WBFO News

The Buffalo Fire Department is a little larger Tuesday, with the swearing-in of a new recruit class, as they head for the training academy.

The auditorium at Waterfront School was filled with the 32 new recruits, their family members of many ages, some veteran firefighters and department brass, welcoming the new members. Now they are off to the training academy in Cheektowaga and should be on fire vehicles in June.

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Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
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WBFO News
Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo welcomes the new recruits.

Fire Commissioner William Renaldo said this brings the department to just over 700, the largest it has been in many years to meet the city's needs.

"The idea is to get ahead of the power curve and stay that way," he said. "In the past, we fell behind 50, 75, 100 personnel. So what we would like to do is keep it current, keep a class on every six months, every year, whatever it takes to stay as fully staffed as possible and not fall behind the power curve."

Renaldo said 300 new firefighters have been added just since 2013. Mayor Byron Brown said the additional fighting power will help ease the department's perennial problems.

"It will definitely help with overtime issues," Brown said. "The plan was to bring on new firefighters to fill the ranks of our Fire Department, to reduce overtime. We're already seeing overtime trending in the right direction, with the previous class that has come into the department."

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Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
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WBFO News
The auditorium at Waterfront School was filled with well-wishers.

Capt. Paul Eason, with the Training Bureau, said the presence of military veterans in the new class makes it a little different.

"A lot of times, people with military backgrounds or veterans, they come in with more discipline, more willing to follow orders and not ask why so much and understand that the 'why' will come in time," Eason said. "So it makes our job a little easier sometimes."

Eason said training is a mix of increasing technology and the old procedures of "putting wet stuff on hot stuff."

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