Buffalo has a new fire commissioner as the Common Council Tuesday approved Mayor Byron Brown's recommendation to bring retired battalion chief William Renaldo out of retirement to take the job.
The post has been vacant since Vincent Muscarella resigned to go back to his permanent rank as a captain. He is currently listed as injured on-duty.
Renaldo served 30 years in the department from 1982-2012, rising in the ranks to battalion chief. He also served 40 years in the Army Reserve as a colonel.
The new commissioner says he already has some priorities in mind.
"Be as effective and efficient as possible. The effective part, we've got down. We've got some of the best people around, particularly in the senior leadership positions. So, we're going to focus on mostly the efficiences, the economics of providing the fire service in most efficient manner available. Overtime is a huge priority," Renaldo said.
The department has long been over budget because of overtime to keep fire vehicles and fire houses staffed to meet union contract requirements.
Some fire department officials apprently turned down the post because of the cuts in pay and benefits the top job involves. Council Majority Leader David Rivera says Renaldo's situation as a retired command officer makes him less susceptible to the problems of officers faced with pension issues.
Rivera says fire commissioner is not an easy post.
"It is a very difficult job. It is very demanding and we have seen the turnover in the Fire Department over the years and the expectancy of a commissioner in the Fire Department has been very, very short. We asked that question when he was in the office: How long do you expect to be here? He says as long as the mayor wants me here. So, he's going to be here for a while," Rivera said.
Renaldo says a new class out of the fire academy will help staffing and there will probably be another class this fall to make up for losses, especially to retirement.