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Cotter back in city for weekend activities

OBSERVER Photos by Jo Ward People visit the Edward M. Cotter at Dunkirk’s Spring Festival Friday Evening.

The Edward M. Cotter is back at the Dunkirk pier for the weekend.

The antique fireboat is one of the oldest of its kind in the world, being commissioned in 1900 in Elizabeth New Jersey as the W.S. Grattan. It survived a massive explosion in 1928 when the whole of the Buffalo waterfront went up which almost ended in the boat being scrapped; however it was rebuilt and went by the name the Firefighter. Years later it was converted from oil to diesel at the Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding & Drydock company. The newly refitted and restored boat was returned to Buffalo on Dec. 2, 1953 where it was renamed the Edward M. Cotter, honoring the late Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local Union 282 president.

Today the 118 year old vessel is still a fully operational and working piece of apparatus (Engine 20) for the city of Buffalo. The boat has other responsibilities in addition to fires including, breaking up ice in the winter to keep the city’s water intakes open and prevent flooding and also serving as a static display and museum, as its designated a National Historic Landmark.

Friday the boat was docked in Dunkirk once more for tours and exhibition over the weekend. This is its 10th consecutive year. Larry Cobado, one of the volunteers with the boat, talked of its history and explained some of its technical aspects. “This boat can draw water in, run it into a hydrant and send water up Main Street through the water main to fight a fire further up Main Street,” he said. He went on to comment on the engines and pumps onboard and how the water intake is “the equivalent of eight full fire trucks.”

The city of Dunkirk’s Fireboat 1, escorted the E.M. Cotter in, nozzles blazing, water streaming through the sky and now visitors from all over the area are coming to see it. Events such as these are generating a lot of foot traffic for the area as the official summer experience in Dunkirk kicks off.

Pictured are stacks on the Edward M. Cotter fireboat.

“All of these events are generating a lot of excitement with city residents, as well as visitors coming into the city,” Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas stated. “Merchants are benefiting from the business that this is generating. That’s what summer is about here. In the city of Dunkirk, people need to know that they have things to do, activities to be had by kids, as well as music and entertainment.”

Hector Rosas, Special Events Coordinator, added, “This is a wonderful opening to our summer here. People got to shop, people got to eat, so everyone is benefiting.”

The Spring Festival and Great Lakes Festival tie together this weekend in Dunkirk. This year’s festivals will showcase 45 exhibitors, six food vendors, a brewery and a wine business. All events are open to the public free of charge. For any questions or information to contact the Development Department at 366-9877 or visit website, dunkirktoday.com.

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas and Special Events Coordinator Hector Rosas pose with the volunteers of the Edward M. Cotter fireboat out of Buffalo.


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