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Home > Leadership > Mayor > Archived Press Releases > 2016 Archives > Rich Products Supports The Opportunity Pledge > New Leadership In The Buffalo Fire Department

New Leadership In The Buffalo Fire Department

Swearing in of new BFD Leadership, as well as the hiring of more first responders, builds on continued efforts to lead the BFD into a new era of 21st Century fire fighting

July 20, 2016 - Mayor Byron W. Brown and Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield announced today a series of appointments and plans for the Buffalo Fire Department (BFD) that build on the Brown administration’s continued commitment to further strengthen public safety to meet the demands of a growing Buffalo.  Today, Buffalo Fire Captain Vincent V. Muscarella and Buffalo Fire Lieutenant Johnathan T. Eaton were sworn in as Deputy Fire Commissioners.  Buffalo Fire Lieutenant James O. Otwell is the new Commander of the Buffalo Fire Investigation Unit.  All three appointments are effective immediately and were announced at a swearing-in ceremony outside Buffalo Fire Headquarters. 

“Keeping our city safe is among my administration’s top priorities and today marks a new era for the city’s fire department as new leadership comes in to effectively manage this complex department and the new firefighters that have been recently hired or will be hired,” said Mayor Brown. “It’s my pleasure to announce these appointments that will further bolster the leadership of the Buffalo Fire Department. With a combined experience of nearly 60 years in the department, these appointees have shown the experience, creativity and dedication it takes to lead the BFD.”

Mayor Brown also announced the hiring of a new class of 50 fire recruits, building on the 109 Buffalo Firefighters hired by the City of Buffalo last year. This new recruit class is expected to begin in early fall, continuing Mayor Brown’s commitment to ensuring the safety of residents and businesses.

“Our fire department is one of the finest in the nation and with our new leadership team in place, along with the hiring of more firefighters, we’re demonstrating our commitment to expanding our department with qualified men and women who reflect the communities they serve,” said Commissioner Whitfield.

Captain Muscarella is a 20-year veteran of the Fire Department, with over 60 Fire Department Certifications ranging from Basic Firefighting Essentials to Fire Instructor to Command and Leadership.  He is a Master Instructor for the International Association of Fire Fighters. After graduating from the Buffalo Fire Academy in 1996, he received the Fire Bell Club “Rookie of the Year” award and became a Certified Fire Instructor before being promoted to Lieutenant in 2009 and then to Captain in 2013.

Lieutenant Eaton is a 14-year veteran of the Fire Department, with a law enforcement background.  He served as a police officer in Winston Salem, North Carolina before joining the BFD, where he was promoted to Fire Lieutenant in 2013.  He has extensive experience in team leadership and developing and implementing fire prevention and educational awareness campaigns.

Lieutenant Otwell has twenty plus years of fire and emergency management experience and 24 years of Military experience, as well as two years’ experience at the Department of State and 10 years as a private emergency management and fire services consultant.  He has an extensive strategic, operational and tactical level of experience with international, federal and local governments and, during his career, has received a number of individual awards, including two superior service Awards from the Government of Iraq and the BFD 2014 Commissioners EMS Award. 

The BFD leadership changes, along with the hiring of this next class of fire recruits, builds on Mayor Brown’s continued commitment to increase the number of minorities and women in the Fire Department, reflecting the rich racial and ethnic diversity in Buffalo.  The addition of 50 new firefighters will bring the total number of sworn personnel in the Buffalo Fire Department to 706. All of these new firefighters must reside in Buffalo as a result of the latest fire contract.
Since 2006, Mayor Brown’s administration has invested in over $26 million in new equipment and technology, enhancing safety for both citizens and business owners.