A firetruck tipped over Monday during a demonstration for schoolchildren outside a South Buffalo firehouse, and now city investigators are trying to determine if negligence was a factor.
Firefighters had taken the truck out of the station for the youngsters' tour of Ladder 10 at Southside Parkway and Seneca Street. When they raised the ladder, the truck toppled over and was destroyed. A firefighter suffered minor injuries.
Mayor Anthony M. Masiello's office said investigators were conducting interviews to determine whether proper safety precautions were taken. Officials said disciplinary charges could be filed against some firefighters if the probe, conducted by the Fire and Human Resources departments concludes negligence was involved.
"We have a responsibility to make sure that firefighters were following proper procedures," Human Resources Commissioner Leonard A. Matarese said. "It could have been an absolute tragedy had this ladder fallen in a different direction."
Joseph E. Foley, president of the fire union, said that automatically assuming that negligence caused the accident would be wrong. The 17-year-old rig had extensive rust and might have had some type of mechanical failure during the demonstration, he said.
He also accused the administration of selective investigations. He claimed that some incidents in which firefighters were injured battling blazes have not received as speedy attention as the toppling of the truck.
Fire Commissioner Michael D'Orazio could not be reached Friday to comment. The investigation is the first personnel-related controversy D'Orazio has faced since the Common Council confirmed him as commissioner Tuesday.
Disciplinary charges have been extremely rare in the 800-member Fire Department, Matarese noted. He estimated that not more than a half-dozen such actions have been taken in recent years.