On October 7, 1960, an unprecedented event occurred in American history. On that night, at the age of
60, the Edward M. Cotter's extraordinary firefighting abilities were called upon to help Buffalo's fellow
firefighters in another country.
A blaze had erupted in the eight-story Maple Leaf Milling Company, a grain and milling complex in
Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada. Despite their efforts, with no fireboat protection of their own, the fire
was soon out-of-control. The Port Colborne Fire Dept. desperately needed help and the call went out
requesting the Cotter.
At approximately 8:30 p.m., with no radar of her own to help her navigate, the Cotter began her
dangerous trek across the often treacherous waters of Lake Erie, escorted by a Coast Guard cutter.
Two hours after receiving the call, the Cotter arrived. With all her guns brought to bear, she fought for
more than four hours until the blaze was finally extinguished.
One can only imagine the pride her crew and the accompanying crew of Engine 8 must have felt. Their
neighbors to the north needed their help and they were on their way - aboard the finest fireboat the
Great Lakes had ever seen.
It was a day of great pride and one that earned it a place in history. On that day, the Edward M. Cotter
became the first fireboat in the United States to cross the international line to fight a fire.