City of Tonawanda Fire Department

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Operating as usual


From Chief of Department May 25, 2021
It is that time of year again that many residents are having campfires in their backyards. So, I just want to remind everyone about the rules regarding this practice so that it can be done safely and legally. In order to regulate the use of fire pits for recreational burning, the fire department uses the Fire Code of New York State as a guide to enforce safe practices. What is the Fire Code?
The fire code establishes regulations at the state level. These regulations relate to structures, processes, premises and safeguards relating to:
- Hazards of fire and explosions arising from the storage, handling or use of structures, materials or devices.
- Conditions hazardous to life, property or public welfare.
- Fire hazards in a structure or on the premises (think fire pits).
- Matters related to construction, repair, alteration or removal of fire suppression and alarm systems.
In general, the purpose of the fire code is: “To establish the minimum requirements consistent with nationally recognized good practice for providing a reasonable level of life-safety and property protection from the hazards of fire, explosion or dangerous conditions.”
As I mentioned above, we use the fire code to regulate the use of fire pits. Section 307 of the Fire Code addresses this issue and it is from there we have derived a list of rules one must abide by in order to use a fire pit. The rules are as follows:
1. Only commercially available fireplaces/pits are to be used. A homemade fire pit constructed of brick may be allowed (see #4 & 5).
2. A screened lid must be in place at all times while burning.
3. Only clean, dry firewood may be burned. Some examples of materials not allowed to be burned in firepits are garbage, paper, plastics, rubber, scrap wood, twigs, leaves, grass or other vegetation.
4. The fireplace/pit must be located no closer than 15 feet from a building or other combustible structure.
5. The fireplace/pit must not have a diameter of more than 3 feet or a height in excess of 2 feet.
6. A fire extinguisher or garden hose must be readily accessible.
7. A responsible adult must constantly supervise the fire. (Unattended fires are not allowed and must be extinguished. Fires should not be left smoldering).
8. Fire must be kept small and within the confines of the fireplace/pit.
9. Burning is not allowed after 11 pm. (This rule is in place for the consideration of neighbors who keep their windows open while sleeping).
10. Fire must be completely extinguished before being left unattended.

Regarding rule # 3 above (requirement for clean dry wood), this is because dry wood burns hotter and gives off less smoke. Some types of wood burn better that other types. Hardwoods such as oak, maple, cherry, apple and ash are the best to use. Other types of wood such as pine and willow that naturally contain more moisture or sap will burn but will also give off much more smoke and not so nice odors. Pressure-treated wood, the kind used for decking and fences, should not be burned as it will give off extra-toxic smoke.
It is important to understand that if you are burning in a firepit, should a neighbor call the fire department to make a complaint because the smoke is bothering them, despite that you might be abiding by all of the rules, the fire department will have no choice but to order that the fire is put out. This is to comply with section 307.2.2 of the code where it states that “burning that will be offensive or objectional due to smoke or odor emissions that make such fires hazardous, shall be prohibited.”
If you have someone in your neighborhood who burns in a firepit (legal or illegal) and are legitimately bothered by the smoke or odor or, if you feel the fire is creating a dangerous situation, you have the right to make a complaint. Do so by calling 9-1-1 and explaining the situation to the dispatcher and that “you wish to make a complaint.” The dispatcher can protect your identity if you fear retribution. The fire department will then come to the scene and investigate the situation.
Other situations that would prohibit the use of a fire pit would be when weather conditions increase the danger of fire spread such as during high winds or extended drought conditions. Many may not realize it but each year between the months of March and May, New York State prohibits any type of open burning. This rule is in effect due to an abundance of post-winter dead/dry vegetation especially in the rural areas. The natural dryness of this vegetation can easily lead to large uncontrollable wildfires occurring.
I would guess that on some evenings, especially when the weather is cool and dry (like we have been experiencing recently), there are hundreds of firepits in use throughout the city at any given time. If you intend to use a firepit or better yet, before you purchase one, my advice is to first ask your neighbors (next door and behind) if they would mind if you were to burn fires in your yard. Many yards in the city are relatively small as compared to larger lots common in nearby towns (Amherst, Wheatfield, Grand Island etc.). In many cases the smaller lots do not provide enough room for the smoke to dissipate before it reaches a neighbor’s property. People who suffer from COPD or allergies can be greatly affected by smoke or smoke odors drifting into their home. It is for that reason the fire code states that burning in a firepit may be deemed illegal. A common situation we encounter involves a fire left smoldering overnight. Please extinguish your fire completely by pouring water on it before you leave it be. Just last November, the Sheridan park Fire District experienced a serious fire to a structure caused when fire from an unattended backyard firepit, spread to the home.
My other advice is to keep the fire small and respect your neighbors. Many times, we are called to investigate a firepit complaint and find a large fire burning with a group people (often drinking) and loud music playing late into the evening. This type of situation will no doubt result in the fire being put out. When we encounter an illegal fire, we typically explain the rules to the resident and issue them a “notice of violation” along with a written list of the rules. If someone continuously violates the rules or refuses to extinguish an illegal fire, our crews will have a Police Officer come to the scene to issue a “Written Summons” with a court date where the responsible party will have to answer to the violation.
If anyone has any questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact me by email or phone.
Chief Stuart


Yesterday afternoon, City of Tonawanda Fire was dispatched for a house fire on Morgan Street, with a report of people still inside. Once on location crews were updated that a passerby was able to alert residents and assist them out of the structure. Crews then went to work to aggressively attack and extinguish the fire. Thank to all of our mutual aid companies: North Tonawanda Professional Firefighters Local 1333, Brighton Fire, Sheridan Park Fire, Kenmore Fire, Ellwood Fire, Grand Island Fire, and Elliott Creek Fire. Also, thank you to the citizens that alerted the residents. #iaff859 #tonawandaprofessionalfirefighters #tonawandafire #nyspffa


From Chief of Department March 9 , 2021

Dog Rescued by Firefighters at House Fire.
I would like to commend a group of our firefighters who did an outstanding job last week at a house fire that occurred in our city. Platoon C, under the command of Assistant Chief Joe Briggs, responded to a reported house fire and upon arrival, was met by the distraught homeowner who had just arrived home and informed him that his dog was still inside and that he tried but could not reach him because of the heavy smoke. On-duty Captain Jeff State, and off-duty firefighters Don Page, Dennis Angelo and Nick Haskill quickly donned breathing apparatus and entered the home with a charged hose-line. They rapidly made their way to the second floor where they encountered a bedroom that was well-involved in fire. While two firefighters aggressively attacked the fire, the other two searched for the dog who they could initially hear howling and crying. Very dense smoke conditions made searching very difficult, but eventually they located the kennel cage and lifted the now semi-conscious dog out a window, into the arms of a firefighter Eric Krzeminski, who was on a ladder. Once on the ground, crews administered oxygen using a special mask made designed for pets. A Twin City Ambulance crew headed by Paramedic, Sean Hulsman, continued caring for the dog and after several minutes, it appeared to regain full consciousness and was able to stand up on his own. The dog was then transported to a nearby emergency veterinarian office where it was treated for smoke inhalation and burns. I am told that the dog is doing well.

Chief Stuart

Photos from WNY Photos's post

Photos from WNY Photos's post

City of Tonawanda Professional Firefighters

City of Tonawanda Professional Firefighters

Between November 1 and November 28, 2020 we will be having a fundraiser. We are again partnering with Three Rivers Wreath & Plant Company to offer you fresh and fragrant Balsam Fir Wreaths, Garland, Swags, and Kissing Balls for holiday decorating and gift-giving. Visit our landing page at and enter our group code 3527XH to begin shopping! A portion of all items purchased comes back to the Union and we use that money to support other local organizations. Decorate for the holidays and help support local organizations!!! #l859 #nyspffa#COT #COTPROUD #cityoftonawanda #holidayseason #holidays2020


From Chief of Department October 30, 2020

This past Wednesday, as they do each year, the Exchange Club of the Tonawanda’s, held a luncheon to honor members from both the Tonawanda and North Tonawanda Fire Departments. Each year I am tasked with identifying one member of our department deserving of this award. This year’s recipient for the award was Captain/Paramedic, Joshua Lapham. Josh was chosen for his energetic attitude, many accomplishments and being involved in many aspects of the department. As a member of our EMS committee, he has performed many jobs that include ordering equipment, scheduling meetings, taking notes, setting agendas and creating our Ambulance RFP committee. He was also instrumental in helping us transition to electronic patient care reporting. In 2019, Josh was solely responsible for our department receiving the EMS Agency of the Year award presented by the Wyoming Erie Regional Emergency Medical Services Council. In 2016 Josh was promoted to the rank of Captain and assigned as our Fire Prevention Officer. In that office he was able to attain National-Level Fire Inspector Certification, something no other department member has been able reach. As the fire inspector, Josh worked hard to ensure the safety of our residents especially those who resided in multi-family apartment buildings. During his time as a Fire Prevention Officer Josh also received training to become a fire scene investigator and joined our Fire Cause and Origin Team. Josh was of great help to me in our efforts to transition to the Lexipol System of Standard Operating Procedures and Guidelines as well as helping to create a pre-fire plan database in electronic form. If all this weren’t enough, several years ago I asked Josh to function as our Exposure Control Officer, a necessary component required by the Dept. of Labor to ensure the safety of all our members by creating plans, procedures and engineering controls to protect against communicable diseases. His work in this area has never been so important as it has since the COVID pandemic hit. Josh also serves as our CPR Instructor coordinator making sure that all career and volunteer firefighters receive this vital training as well as that for interested citizens. To this day Josh remains energetic, involved and most of all, constantly motivated to improve all aspects of our fire department. I want to thank Josh for his continued commitment and unending desire to show initiative each day he comes to work and for setting an example to our other members on how to take real “pride and ownership” of our department.

Chief Stuart


From Chief of Department October 16, 2020

This past Tuesday evening (during the Bill’s game) the fire department encountered a serious breakdown of our radio system that significantly hampered our emergency communications. This was a result of an electrical malfunction in the building where our radio repeater equipment is located. Knowing that our Mayor’s Administrative Assistant, Chuck Gilbert, is a licensed electrician, I called upon him for asistance. I also contacted Mark Banks, our Office of Emergency Management Director who is very knowledgeable with our radio system. Both men responded immediately from their homes and helped to correct the situation. Thank you, Chuck Gilbert and Mark Banks, for the help you provided. Your quick response to this situation greatly minimized the chance of a delayed response by TFD to any emergency that might have occurred during that time period.

Chief Stuart


From Chief of Department October 16, 2020

It is just as important to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home as it is to have working smoke alarms. Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is a colorless and odorless gas that is a byproduct of combustion (the burning of fossil fuels and ordinary combustibles such as natural gas, gasoline/diesel fuel, coal/charcoal, wood, plastics, rubber etc.). Inhaling increased amounts of CO can cause death by asphyxia. Asphyxia occurs because CO molecules will displace the oxygen molecules that are normally transported in the bloodstream. Life cannot be sustained without adequate oxygenation of the bloodstream. First responders have been instructed that individuals with greater oxygen requirements such as unborn babies, infants, children, elderly persons and people with coronary or respiratory problems, are at a greater risk for CO poisoning. CO emergencies occur throughout the year but, it is during the colder months that there is a greater chance due to the increased use of heating equipment. Statistically, automobiles left running in an attached garage remain the leading cause of CO poisoning but there are other likely causes as well. These include inadequate venting of gas-powered hot water heaters, furnaces and clothes dryers. The vent or “flue” on these appliances are the metal, duct-like pipes that are usually attached at the top of the unit. If there are cracks or holes in this piping or if they are not pitched properly so the exhausted gases travel upward and out the chimney, CO gas can accumulate and spread throughout the house. High-efficiency furnaces that utilize PVC (plastic) piping to exhaust fumes usually extend through the basement foundation wall rather than the chimney. The closeness of this exhaust piping to the ground makes them susceptible to getting blocked by snow drifts should a heavy snowfall occur (remember to keep snow clear from these areas). A cracked plenum or heat exchanger on a forced air style furnace can also cause CO gas to accumulate in a home. Other causes include the use of a gas-powered electrical generator or gas grill inside a home or attached garage (or too close to an open window or door). This is not a complete list of all potential causes of CO gas. Several years ago, when answering a CO detector alarming at a home on Rogers Avenue, we traced the source of CO to be coming from a metal bucket full of ashes situated next to their fireplace. Heat from the fireplace sustained a small amount of combustion from within the ashes in the metal bucket that resulted in the production of a large amount of CO gas. The scary part was that there was no burning or smoke odor being given off from the burning ashes that might have alerted the resident. Had it not been for the CO detector providing a warning, it was likely that this situation could have proven fatal had the family gone to sleep. My hope is that the information I just described will motivate you to make sure to have a CO detector in place. There have been many incidents involving loss of life due to CO gas accumulation in a home that could have been prevented had a simple, relatively inexpensive carbon monoxide detector, been in place. It is best to have a detector installed in a common area on all floors and one in the basement or utilities room. If you rent a home or an apartment, it is the legal responsibility of the landlord to have both CO detectors and smoke alarms in place. Symptoms of CO poisoning can be like that of the flu such as headaches, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. If a CO detector alarms in your residence and you are experiencing these types of symptoms, leave the house immediately and call 911 to request the fire department. The fire department has equipment that can confirm and measure the presence of carbon monoxide gas. If your CO detector should alarm and no one has any symptoms, you should still call 911 and request that the FD come to investigate. It is always better to be safe than sorry. If you cannot afford a CO detector (or smoke alarm), the fire department can provide one for you at no cost, thank you to the generosity of the Kiwanis Club of the Tonawanda’s. If you have any questions about carbon monoxide, feel free to call 692-8400 and our firefighters can speak to you. If you have concerns about an appliance or any of the components I mentioned above, our firefighters can come to your residence to check it out.

Chief Stuart


44 William Street
Tonawanda, NY


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EMTs wanted my company is looking to hire full and part time EMTs. we are paying $15.50/ a hours and the sight is a metal plant of military road in Buffalo. If interested, please IM me
Thanks for making his day! Not sure if he was more excited for the fire truck or the Easter Bunny. C.J. Taylor
Please Check out a new device designed by a Firefighter for Firefighters. The FRED system and 4 gallons of water can extinguish a fully involved vehicle fire. Check it out at Please contact me for more information at [email protected] Thank you.
We have recently aquired this cutting edge EMS equipment for our Career Division to utilize on critical patients! Another Job well done for our EMS Comittee. Kudos!
Thank you so much for coming out to the PTSA Trunk or Treat event!!! 🎃
Shared from the City of Tonawanda Professional Firefighters Group Page.
Happy 4th of July.