Volunteer fire force would put lives at risk

  There has been much commentary in recent months concerning ways to address Buffalo's financial problems, but none has been more absurd than Jerry Kelly's March 31 Viewpoints article advocating the adoption of a volunteer Fire Department.
 Aside from the fact that state law mandates that all city governments provide a full-time, paid fire service, a volunteer fire service for Buffalo would have disastrous consequences, and result in a large increase in loss of lives.
 Kelly is astonishingly unaware that the city has a significantly greater fire problem than the suburbs. Indeed, the only reason volunteer fire departments work in the suburbs is because these departments don't fight anywhere near the number of fires that the Buffalo Fire Department fights.
 To put the matter in perspective, there are individual fire companies in the Buffalo Fire Department that go to more fires in one week than some suburban companies go to in an entire year.
Perhaps the most ludicrous point of Kelly's article was that suburban volunteer departments have response times comparable to the Buffalo Fire Department. This is patently false. Within five to seven minutes' time, the Buffalo Fire Department has 25 firefighters deployed to attack a structure fire. No volunteer department in Erie County can boast of such a response.
 What makes Kelly's article so disturbing is that he obviously has the ear of Mayor Anthony Masiello, and more disturbingly, Masiello considers this a good idea.
 Neither Kelly, nor Masiello, nor any of the businessmen who are advising the mayor have the slightest clue what it takes to fight a fire. Yet this does not stop them from commenting on matters about which they know so little.
Buffalo Fire Department

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