BUFFALO, NY - Saturday was a special day for Nicholas Catanzaro and his family. Nick was being sworn into the next class of Buffalo Firefighters, something his dad had done over three decades ago.
"I know my dad's up there watching down on me."
Nick's father, Michael Catanzaro, was killed in the line of duty while responding to a warehouse fire on December 27th, 1983. The North Division Street warehouse was illegally housing a 500-gallon propane tank. When the valve broke, an explosion occurred that set the entire city block on fire.
"His father gave the ultimate sacrifice. He died in the line of duty, in service to his community. But for his loved one to follow in his footsteps just shows you how much of a family this is," Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield told 2 On Your Side.
"All I want to do is make him proud. Because people say, I never knew my father, from what I've heard people say I act a lot like him so there's nothing I would love more than to fill his legacy as a firefighter. Make him proud," Catanzaro said after the ceremony.
The explosion took the lives of five firefighters and two neighbors. It was the largest explosion in Buffalo's history and forever changed the department but Nick says he's ready to serve the city his father died trying protect.
"They're tough shoes to fill. I'm going to do everything in my power to fill those shoes and make him as proud as I can."
Training at the Buffalo Fire Academy begins on Monday for the 43 new recruits. The program lasts 12 weeks and they are expected to graduate in mid-July.