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'Fluff piece': Buffalo Fire Union responds to NYU blizzard report

May 17, 2023May 17, 2023

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Vinny Ventresca has heard the trauma that Buffalo's bravest faced on the front lines of the Christmas blizzard over and over. A week after the release of a roughly 180-page New York University blizzard report, the president of Buffalo Professional Firefighter Local 282 Union is holding nothing back.

"It is nothing more than a fluff piece put together in an effort to slowly cover up the glaring failures of people in leadership roles within the city of Buffalo up to during and after the blizzard," Ventresca said.

The report states that Buffalo's emergency vehicle fleet was "not sufficient" to respond to the blizzard which killed 31 people in Buffalo. The city is purchasing 14 pieces of fire equipment with some expected to arrive by October. Some of the pieces of equipment include firetrucks, like aerial platforms and an engine/pumper, rapid response vehicles, UTV-tracked vehicles, and command response vehicles. The city is also exploring the idea of buying a used firetruck from 2007.

"A 2007 model from another department is better than what we currently have," Ventresca said.

On top of that, Ventresca said there was no plan in place for the fire department prior to the storm.

'When citizens are out there freezing to death, like, think about how that affects first responders, that's all we want to do is help people and we were incapable of doing that because of the lack of preparedness," he said.

After the report came out, Mayor Byron Brown introduced a 20-person task force to help respond to future storms and implement the report's recommendations like communication, coordination, and equipment.

'We have to be proactive, not reactive. The work that we will do as this task force will be done prior to getting into storm situations," he said, "the goal here is to update the emergency plan."

The city also has new roles to fill including a fleet manager and emergency operations manager which will help with future storms.

"Maybe this person can pull it all together," Ventresca said.

7 News' Kristen Mirand did reach out to a city spokesperson about these concerns from Ventresca. The city responded with a statement saying the blizzard was difficult on everyone and they thank first responders for their heroic actions.

Ventresca said he hopes the Buffalo's bravest can plan with the city before another storm strikes.

"We'd love to work together and get things done," he said.