The 1800’s

During the war of 1812, the Village of Buffalo was burned by British Troops leaving only one house standing. When the village was rebuilt, each homeowner was required to have leather buckets and fires were considered a common disaster requiring all able bodied men to join a “bucket brigade” to extinguish the fire.


In 1817, the first organized fire company was formed bringing some order to firefighting.


In 1824, the first Hand drawn pumper was obtained and Cataract Engine No.1 was formed.


1831 saw the formal beginning of the volunteer fire department of Buffalo with the purchase of two hand pumpers, 200′ of leather hose, and later that year a hand drawn truck that carried ladders, ropes, axes, and hooks giving it the name “Hook & Ladder.”


In 1832, the City of Buffalo was incorporated. The Buffalo Volunteer Fire Department began to slowly grow as did the city.


By 1852, the department had grown to 11 hand pumpers, 12 hose carts, and two hook & ladders. This same year, the first attempt was made for a fully paid fire department, but it was denied by the charter commission.


In 1859, the first steam pumper was purchased. Due to its weight, a team of horses was needed to pull it. It also required an engineer to run it, a driver to drive the team and a Fireman to stoke the furnace. This heralded the first paid men of the Buffalo Fire Department.


In 1866, the first fire alarm boxes were placed into service, beginning the 151 year history of the communications division.
As the city began to grow, businesses, insurance companies, and citizens demanded a paid force. On July 1, 1880, the Buffalo Fire Department became a fully paid organization consisting of 187 men, 81 horses, 14 steamers, 15 hose carts, five chemical wagons (pressurized water tanks), three hook & ladders, and 24,500′ of leather hose.


By 1900, the Department had grown to 26 Engines, nine Hook & Ladders, six Battalion Chiefs, five Chemical companies and two Fireboats.


The 1900’s

In 1900, the Fireboat W.S. Grattan was delivered.


The 1901 Pan American Exposition was held in Buffalo. Two Engine Companies, Two hose companies, a Hook & Ladder and the 7th Battalion were organized and fully manned to protect the grounds.
During the horse drawn era, men worked 21 hour days, having a total of three hours off a day for meals. They were also given off two days per month.


In 1912, Engine 3 received the first motorized pumper. It was assigned to all 2nd alarms citywide for evaluation. In 1914, Engine 3 was given a new motorized pumper. Engine 36 was given Engines 3’s old pumper becoming the First Company organized with a motor pumper and a firehouse built without horse facilities.


On July 1, 1916, the Two Platoon system went into effect for everyone below Battalion Chief, reducing the work week to 84 hours. One platoon worked days for a week and one worked nights. On the swing day, one platoon would work 24 hours while the other had off.


In 1923, the Chiefs were put on the two platoon system and the last of the horses were phased out.


On April 10, 1928 Buffalo FireFighters Local 282 became affiliated though the I.A.F.F.


In 1929, the Department consisted of 36 Engines, 13 Hook & Ladders, 3 Motor Squads (Rescues), 9 Battalions, and a Fireboat.


In 1940, Hook & Ladder 2 received the first metal aerial.


In 1941, the Fire Prevention Bureau was created.


In 1942, a full company for Crash Fire Rescue was created at the Buffalo Airport and named Engine 7.


In 1944, 15 Hook & Ladders were in service.


In 1952, the title Fireman was changed to Firefighter.


In 1975, the current 2 days, 2 nights , off 4 40 hour work week was adopted.


In 1978, Rescue 1 & 2 were established to run as manpower units and the city was organized under one Division Chief.


In 1980, the first five female fire fighters were appointed.