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The City of Buffalo is facing financial ruin, and possible receivership, because of me. I'm one of those Buffalo firemen who took a personal leave on Christmas Eve to spend the evening with my family.

Mayor Masiello and his administration is laying the city's woes on my back. It's a heavy load to bear, but as a fireman in Buffalo I'm used to heavy loads on my shoulders.

But wait a minute; let me think. In July the city closed four firehouses, agreeing to run fire trucks with a minimum crew of four men, thus ending a dangerous and foolish policy of running up to eight companies with three men. Then the city planned the fire budget as if this new minimum-manning policy did not exist.

Then Mayor Masiello ordered the layoff of seven firemen in the July budget. We had failed to give up a negotiated 2 percent raise due July 1. While the seven firemen at the lowest end of the pay scale collected unemployment checks, the department had to call in firemen all summer long, at time-and-a-half.

Now the administration is using these "excessive overtime costs" as a tool in their battle to cut more jobs out of our department.

Now Eva Hassett wants more fire house closings. Also, the city wants to remove a number of hook-and-ladder companies from our firehouses, though a hook-and-ladder's main responsibility at a fire scene is search and rescue.

So maybe the city's problems are not all my fault. It seems I have lots of help: crime, unemployment, suburban flight, tax-exempt property, absentee landlords, drugs, bloated bureaucracies, incompetent administrators, lifelong suburbanites trying to solve our urban problems, guns.

A search is under way to find a person to take care of the "everyday" mechanics of running a big city. I suggest convincing City Court Judge Gene Fahey to give them a hand.

Buffalo Fire Department

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