Leaders of the Buffalo Fire Department were joined Wednesday by high-level city officials in welcoming the newest class of firefighter recruits. By adding 66 firefighter recruits, the number of sworn personnel in the department stands at 680.
Several speakers addressed the gathering at The Lewis J. Bennett High School of Innovative Technology on the Bennett High School campus. The tenor of the event may have been expressed best by Father Joe Bayne.
"May you give them courage and patience and strength," Bayne invoked, "but may they never forget that they are human and they will be more valuable to us as a fire department and a city than any new piece of apparatus."
One recruit, Trevor Dugan of South Buffalo, expressed his excitement for the grueling training that is ahead.
"I feel like I was sort of born to defend the city. It feels good to be sworn in to do something like that," said Dugan, the nephew of a former firefighter who has shared the realities and dangers that come with the job.
He said he received the call Tuesday that he had been selected for the department. With a degree in advertising and varied job experiences from selling insurance to driving an Uber, Dugan admits the commitment to firefighting "is a very big step up."
New Fire Commissioner Vincent Muscarella missed the ceremony due to the flu, according to Mayor Byron Brown, who joked the commissioner was encouraged to remain in his sick bed. In Muscarella's absence, Deputy Fire Commissioner Jonathan Eaton presided over the ceremony.
"You are choosing a profession, a career, that is more than a job. It is a calling," said Brown, who used the moment to tout his administration's commitment to the fire department. Since 2006, the city, he said, has invested $26 million, producing new or renovated fire houses, an updated firefighting fleet and state-of-the-art firefighting gear.
"In the past few years we have appointed and hired over 150 new firefighters and all of you will be joining the ranks of what I believe is one of the best fire departments in the entire nation."