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Edward M. Cotter, oldest working fireboat, turns 116

The 116th year of operation for the Edward M. Cotter fireboat will be celebrated with the presentation of a birthday cake at noon Nov. 12 in the Buffalo Naval and Military Park.

Sam Guadagna, former captain of the fireboat, will answer questions about the history of the vessel, which is owned by the Buffalo Fire Department. Guadagna, who is among those most responsible for getting National Historic Preservation status for the boat, will be joined at the event by Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield Jr. and others.

[Gallery: A Closer Look: The Edward M. Cotter]

The Buffalo Firefighters Pipe and Drum Band is scheduled to perform.

The E.M. Cotter is the oldest working fireboat still in service. The conservancy that runs the boat is raising funds to repair the Cotter with new propellers and shafts to bring it up to U.S. Coast Guard standards and keep the vessel in service for years to come. Donations are payable to Fireboat E.M. Cotter Conservancy and may be sent to P.O. Box 4, Buffalo, NY, 14231.

[Related: Both a museum and working fireboat, 116-year-old Edward M. Cotter needs TLC]

The Cotter will be open for public tours from noon to 3 p.m. on Nov. 12 and 13. Cookies and drinks will be served. During the winter and spring months, the vessel plays a major role in ice-breaking on the Buffalo River, which helps prevent flooding in many towns upriver, including Cheektowaga and West Seneca. The fireboat also operates as a classroom and museum and the operators hope to attract local schools to it in the near future.

For more information, call Sandy Beckman at 864-9174.

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