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City Hallways (June 29) What if there's a fire at SolarCity?

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Inside the SolarCity building at Riverbend

Fire commissioner talks SolarCity

SolarCity officials and Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield were in Council chambers Tuesday to answer this question: What if there's a fire at SolarCity's Riverbend facility, a massive building that will contain volatile chemicals used to manufacture solar panels?

Whitfield did most of the talking.

It will be a huge facility, with dangerous, volatile and caustic chemicals, some of which are air-reactive - flammable when they mix with air, he said.

In addition to needing details of the building design, all materials in the facility and their location, the Fire Department must be apprised of shipments into the facility, and their transit path into Buffalo, Whitfield said.

The commissioner said he and his command officers are already talking with SolarCity officials, and have already been at the facility.

"We have a great relationship so far with SolarCity," Whitfield said.

The commissioner added that for firefighters, training will be key.

"Training will be very important to us," Whitfield said. "There has been training and we'll continue to do that," he said.

As long  as  you're here

The conversation between the Council and SolarCity quickly turned to jobs.

University District Councilman Rasheed Wyatt asked about opportunities for the inner-city. People are living in poverty and need jobs, Wyatt said. They have no prior manufacturing experience, but do have high school diplomas, he said.

"We are dedicated to making that work force look like the city of Buffalo," said Joseph Mendelson, a SolarCity attorney and policy director.  "Diversity is a very important issue for SolarCity."

"We want to make sure we don't create artificial barriers to employment," he added.

Did  you vote yet?
City Hallways Poll: Is the  tower too tall?

Artist rendering

Artist rendering

City officials recently approved construction of a 23-story tower on Buffalo's Outer Harbor amid criticism that the building is too tall, that its glass and metal design is unattractive, and that a 197-unit apartment building may not be the best use for the waterfront property on Fuhrmann Boulevard.

Given that, City Hallways wants to know what you think.

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As always, the poll will be up all week. Only one ballot per person, please.

Results will be posted next week.

Today's calendar items

Mayor Brown and Pastor Dwayne Jones of Mount Aaron Baptist Church, joined by other elected officials, clergy, business and community members, are scheduled to attend a ceremonial ribbon-cutting this afternoon for the official grand opening of the Mount Aaron Manor senior housing complex on Genesee Street.

In today's Buffalo News and buffalonews.com, I have story on city of Buffalo allowing the Lodge Bar & Grill to reopen, with conditions. My colleague Samantha Christmann has story on what happened to Lloyd's when it came to the  Planning Board with its Elmwood Avenue restaurant proposal.

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