By official decree of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and the Common Council, today is Edward M. Cotter Day.
It’s not exactly common to name a day after a boat but the Edward M. Cotter isn’t exactly a common boat. It is, after all, the oldest active fireboat in the world. Built in 1900, it’s been in continuous service for over 120 years.
The Cotter was originally named the William S. Grattan, after a long-time firefighter and union president. It was built by the Crescent Shipyard in Elizabeth Port, New Jersey. The Cotter was the first fireboat to be built with a steel hull, and it was also the first to be equipped with a powerful water cannon.
The Cotter was put to the test soon after it was commissioned. In 1901, a major fire broke out in Buffalo’s waterfront. The Cotter was one of the first fireboats on the scene, and it helped to extinguish the fire. The Cotter’s performance in this fire earned it a reputation as one of the most effective fireboats in the country.
The Cotter continued to serve Buffalo for many years. It helped to extinguish numerous fires, and it also played a vital role in the rescue of many people. In 1928, the Cotter was nearly destroyed when an oil barge and oil tanker caught fire. The Cotter was able to extinguish the fire, but it was badly damaged. The Cotter was rebuilt and returned to service in 1930. Then in 1954, it was renamed the Edward M. Cotter, after a long-time firefighters’ union president.
The Cotter continued to serve Buffalo for many more years. It helped to extinguish numerous fires, and it also played a vital role in the rescue of many people. In 1996, the Cotter was designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Cotter is, of course, still in use today, and it continues to play an important role in the protection of Buffalo’s waterfront. It’s a reminder of the city’s rich history, and it is a symbol of the city’s commitment to safety.
The Fireboat E.M. Cotter Conservancy, Inc. is raising money for the continued upkeep of the Cotter. A collaboration of the Fire Bell Club of Buffalo, the Buffalo Fire Historical Museum, Firefighters Local 282 Union and the WNY Retired Firefighters, the conservancy hopes to do finance some costly repairs: new propellers, shafts, engine overhaul and hull repairs.
Donations can be made at www.emcotterconservancy.org, or a fundraiser — Cotter Fest — is planned for June 25.
RELATED: Friday is Edward M. Cotter Day in Buffalo
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