State funds repairs for Buffalo's historic fireboat

Dec 17, 2018

Some much needed repairs are on the way for the Buffalo Fire Department's Edward M. Cotter. At 118-years-old - it's the oldest active fireboat in the world and it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Cotter is docked on the Buffalo River near the corner of Ohio Street and Michigan Avenue
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

The Cotter serves as an active fire engine on the waterfront and it's the area's primary icebreaker. Fireboat Captain John Sixt says it's been quite some time since the boat has been in dry dock.   
    
"We're in desperate need of some hull repairs. A little inspection to make sure that she's still viable. Rivet work to repair some leaks. And we also have two props, a shaft and a rudder that need to be repaired. It's equipment from 1953 - so you can imagine what kind of condition it's in," Sixt said.  

Capt. John Sixt talks about the need for repairing the Cotter at the Engine 20 Dock on Ohio St. at Michigan Ave.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

Preservation Buffalo Niagara Executive Director Jessie Fisher points out that the Cotter is the oldest operating fireboat on the Great Lakes.
    
"Generations of Buffalonians have benefitted from the hard work of the Cotter and from the brave firefighters who have operated it. And making these repairs mean that future generations of Buffalonians will not only benefit from the work that this boat does on our working waterfront but will also be connected to our past, and will understand the importance of the water, and the importance our maritime heritage, to the city of Buffalo and to our future," Fisher said.

Sixt says the work is expected to take about a month and will be done in the spring after the ice breaking season. Assemblyman Sean Ryan announced a $500,000 state grant, on Monday, to pay for the repairs.