The Edward M. Cotter is the oldest active fireboat in the world, but at 117 years old, it’s still powerful enough to break up the foot of ice built up on the Buffalo River.
John Sixt has been captain of the Cotter for three years. On Wednesday, he navigated through the Buffalo River, to the South Park Bridge, determined to break up the ice before the warm weather thaws it out.
Breaking the ice serves as an important purpose upriver by preventing flooding.
The Buffalo River has three main tributaries. As the water freezes at the top, the unfrozen water underneath has nowhere to go, but onto the rivers’ banks.
Crews were out for about nine hours on Wednesday, which is about the average amount of time for the clearing crew.
The volunteers on board the fireboat say they usually make about six to eight trips every winter, but have made as many as 40 in a season.