Two sources tell the 7 Eyewitness News i-Team more than half of the 53 firefighter candidates, graduating Wednesday night, have not been provided with emergency bailout gear by the city, as required by New York State Labor Law.
Firefighters are provided with this gear in case they need to escape from a burning building and don't have access to an escape route. This device, carried in their pockets, allows them to scale a building if necessary.
These graduating firefighters are expected in their assigned firehouses as early as Thursday morning. Sources tell me they are concerned firefighters who start on Saturday could be out on the line without this protective equipment.
There are older bailout systems available, but sources tell the I-Team this class was never trained in how to use them. It would be a violation of state law to require them to use that system.
The Buffalo Firefighters union, Local 282 issued this statement:
"Local 282 contends that it is imperative that all graduates of any training academy should be sent to assignments in the firehouses with all the required safety equipment, especially that equipment that is required by law as well that all trainees graduate with all the necessary and appropriate training."
E-mails provided to the I-Team show the city suddenly canceled a bid with one company, about two weeks before graduation. It's unclear why a bid was canceled.
The city would not respond to those e-mails.
NEW THIS MORNING: Concerns with the #Buffalo Fire Department about equipment, not currently available, for its newest firefighters, graduating tonight. They don't have bailout devices. Why was a bid cancelled, as noted in this email? #Firefighters #bailout #NYS @WKBW pic.twitter.com/Fdgld7cmWN
— Ed Drantch (@EdDrantch) June 20, 2018
According to Kevin Helfer, the city's parking commissioner and the man, who is right now in charge of the fire department's finances, we've learned a shipment of bailout devices is expected to arrive Wednesday, though there's no guarantee.
Helfer told the I-Team by phone, "Every firefighter will have bailout gear when they start their shift." He also said the city would never put a firefighter on the line without proper equipment.
Again, the city says those bailout devices should be arriving today.
We've asked to do an on-camera interview about why these devices are coming in at the last minute. We're still waiting to hear back.